The functioning of the ecosystem of the Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania: a review

  • W. J. Wolff
  • J. van der Land
  • P. H. Nienhuis
  • P. A. W. J. de Wilde
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology 86 book series (DIHY, volume 86)


The Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania, is an area of over 10000 km2 of shallow water and tidal flats between the Sahara and the upwelling system off the Mauritanian coast. The results of the Dutch-Mauritanian project ‘Banc d’Arguin 1988’ as well as the relevant literature are reviewed in order to develop a preliminary conceptual model of the functioning of this ecosystem. Hydrographie ally the Banc d’Arguin can be characterized as a large-scale negative estuary with higher salinities near the shore. It is concluded that ultimately the Banc d’Arguin ecosystem is fueled by nutrients and organic matter derived from the upwelling area. The inner part of the Banc d’Arguin system is dominated by a detritus-based benthic foodweb in which seagrasses are the principal primary producers. Little of the seagrass production seems to be exported to other parts of the system or other areas. Zooplankton and zoobenthos biomasses are relatively low, but nevertheless support high densities of consumers. Aquatic birds are especially numerous. The study identifies many research topics for the future.

Key words

Banc d’Arguin Mauritania ecosystem 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. J. Wolff
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. van der Land
    • 3
  • P. H. Nienhuis
    • 4
  • P. A. W. J. de Wilde
    • 5
  1. 1.Dept. of Nature ConservationWageningen Agricultural UniversityThe Netherlands
  2. 2.DLO — Institute for Forestry and Nature ResearchLeersumThe Netherlands
  3. 3.National Museum of Natural HistoryLeidenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Netherlands Institute for Ecological ResearchYersekeThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Netherlands Institute for Sea ResearchDen BurgThe Netherlands

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