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Densities of mollusc species at different sites along the Chinese coast

Citation

Peng, He-Bo et al. (2021), Densities of mollusc species at different sites along the Chinese coast, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.stqjq2c3d

Abstract

Aim: Molluscs are important grazers, filter and deposit feeders, scavengers and predators, which in turn are food for shorebirds, fish and people. Some species, targeted as human food, have been cultured along the Chinese coast for hundreds of years. To examine whether aquacultural practices have meanwhile affected biodiversity gradients, we measured mollusc community structure along the coast of China in habitats which are intensively used by humans.

Location: Chinese coast

Methods: We sampled 21 intertidal sites spanning 20 latitudinal degrees and 18,400 km of coastline. We assessed alpha diversity to verify whether mollusc communities exhibit the expected biodiversity gradient with latitude, and beta diversity gradients with distance. To examine whether human activities such as transportation and culturing could have affected these patterns, we distinguished commercial from non-commercial mollusc species and compared the differences in distribution, density, alpha diversity and beta diversity.

Results: We found non-commercial species showed the expected biodiversity gradients. Commercial species (i) dominated the intertidal mollusc communities at 19 of the 21 sites, and compared with non-commercial species, (ii) exhibited wider geographical distributions, (iii) showed no significant change in Bray-Curtis index (abundance-based beta diversity) with either geographical or climatic distance, (iv) exhibited lower average dissimilarities, and (v) did not show a decrease in species richness and Shannon diversity with latitude. Combining all species, trends were the same as for the commercial species.

Main conclusions: A few cultured species dominated the intertidal mollusc communities in high densities along the Chinese coastline, taking over the ecological roles of the native species but not driving them extinct. In this way aquacultural practices have exerted a homogenizing influence strong enough to erase basic biodiversity gradients. Since molluscs are food for the growing human population and the shrinking populations of migratory animals, coastal planning and management of both intertidal habitats and the exploitative activities employed need to incorporate these dimensions.

Funding

National Key Research and Development Program of China, Award: 2018YFC1406402

a KNAW China Exchange Programme grant

China Scholarship Council, Award: 201506100028

Ubbo Emmius Fund of the University of Groningen

the Spinoza Premium 2014 of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO)

“Saving spoon-billed sandpiper” of Beijing Forestry University

a KNAW China Exchange Programme grant

Ubbo Emmius Fund of the University of Groningen

“Saving spoon-billed sandpiper” of Beijing Forestry University