Benthic Community Responses during Different Construction Stage of Large Coastal Development (Saemangeum, Republic of Korea)

Friday, 19 December 2014
Sohyun Park and Soonmo An, Pusan National University, Busan, South Korea
The Saemangeum reclamation project in South Korea represents one of the largest construction efforts in coastal environments and provides a valuable opportunity to evaluate the benthic community responses in the large scale human disturbances. The changes of benthic ecosystems were monitored in the course of construction stage.

Depending on the construction stage (Partial Closure (PC) stage: May 2004 ~Jan. 2006, Complete Closure (CC) stage: May 2006~Nov. 2006), Stable (S) stage: May 2007 ~ Aug. 2008), subtidal benthic ecosystems around Saemangeum were affected differently. In particular, the dramatic change of benthic community was observed in DI (Direct influence) area located inside the barrage. The benthic community change was temporal and minimum in the IDI (In-direct Influence) area located outside the barrage.

During PC stage, the species number and density tended to increase in DI, but they rapidly decreased during CC stage. They increased again during S stage in DI but the most of the species were composed of opportunistic species indicating a deteriorated environment. In IDI, the species number and density also increased during PC stage and decreased during CC stage, but unlike DI, the increase of species number and density in S stage was not observed. In DI area, the benthic community structure had changed due to hypoxia, desalination and landization after CC stage, and the opportunistic species like Theora fragilis, Tharyx sp., Heteromastus filiformis had dominated after S-stage. In IDI area, however, abrupt environmental changes had not appeared and species number and density had been constant and species composition did not change even after the CC stage.