The biological impact of overflowing sands around a marine aggregate extraction site : Dieppe (eastern English Channel)
The study investigates the physical impact of sediment deposition associated with aggregate dredging at a site off Dieppe, and the consequences for benthic fauna. Sampling stations were sited across potential zones of impact classified as high, moderate, and low deposition, depending on their proximity to dredging activities and their position relative to the net sediment transport route. Samples were also taken west of the dredge site outside the zone of likely impact (no deposition). A strong gradient was observed from the sediments dominated by fine sands in the high and moderate deposition zones, through to coarse sands and gravels in the low and no deposition zones. The benthic fauna sampled from the deposits of fine sand in the high and moderate deposition zones were sparse compared with the coarser deposits sampled from the low and no deposition zones. There was a strong correspondence between the distribution of different sediment fractions and the associated benthic fauna, with a weighted Spearman rank correlation of 0.638, higher than reported in related studies. This suggests that in deposition areas such as this, biological interactions play a less important role in shaping communities than the changes in the physical environment, which may have a greater impact on the biological communities.