, Volume 846, Issue 1, pp 123–133 | Cite as

The cross-shore distribution of epibenthic predators and its effect on zonation of intertidal macrobenthos: a case study in the river Scheldt

  • Frank Van de MeutterEmail author
  • Olja Bezdenjesnji
  • Nico De Regge
  • Jietse Maes
  • Jan Soors
  • Jeroen Speybroeck
  • Erika Van den Bergh
  • Gunther Van Ryckegem
Primary Research Paper


Available research is inconclusive on how circatidal habitat use and cross-shore distribution of aquatic epibenthic predators may affect the vertical zonation of infauna in muddy, soft-bottom substrates in estuaries. We placed fyke traps at different heights on the intertidal mudflat to assess the circatidal density of epibenthic predators. Infauna was sampled across the same tidal gradient. The abundance of epibenthic predators in the fykes decreased with elevation (decreasing inundation time), yet for the shrimp Palaemon longirostris abundance did not change with elevation in autumn. When corrected for inundation time, predator density was equal over the tidal range or higher on the high mudflat in some instances, indicating that predators evenly distributed over the mudflat or moved to the highest part during a high tide. The density of epibenthic predators did not correlate with the density of infauna, whereas the latter did show a close relationship with sediment characteristics. Our data suggest epibenthic predator density does not shape the present distribution of infauna across the tidal gradient on the oligohaline mudflats in the Scheldt.


Oligochaeta Tidal migration Crangon Palaemon Pomatoschistus Bottom-up 



We wish to thank the Maritime access department for funding the monitoring of benthos. We want to thank all people at INBO and students who assisted with the sampling and sample processing: Dimitri Buerms, De Beukelaer Joram, Lefranc Charles, Soors Jan, Swerts Edith, Terrie Thomas and Van den Broeck Julie.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)BrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL)LeuvenBelgium

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