MUDFLATS : general description

Mudflats are intertidal or subtidal habitats covered by mud. Mud is a sediment made of clay which particle size is smaller than 63 µm. These particles generally form in estuaries, where fresh- and salt-water mix, which leads fine particles to flocculate into larger particles. These particles are flushed towards the sea and then settle down in areas with low hydrodynamics. Intertidal bare mudflats, located in the shore, are characterized by a very high biological productivity, especially related to the production of benthic microalgae, which grow at the surface of the sediment. This production fuels a complex food web made of microfauna, meiofauna and macrofauna at its first trophic levels. These consumers are food resources for predators like fish and birds. The very high production of benthic microalgae on intertidal bare mudflats benefits to shellfish farming activities, especially oyster and mussel farming, as these two species largely rely on benthic microalgae when they are cultured on or close to intertidal bare mudflats.

MUDFLATS specifically studied by the researchers from the team BIOFEEL :

The researchers from the team BIOFEEL carry out their research on the mudflats located on the Charente-Maritime coastline, located in the Marennes-Oléron bay (Brouage mudflat, Yves cove) and in the Aiguillon bay. Other mudflats are also studied, especially those located along the French Atlantic coast (Bay of Bourgneuf), in the Mont Saint-Michel Bay, in the Seine river estuary, and in the Dutch and the German (Sylt-Rømø Bight) parts of the Wadden Sea. Other studies are carried out in French Guyana and on subtidal mudflats of the shallow water bays located along the Gulf of Mexico in the United-States.


Research carried out on mudflats aims at understanding their functioning, by studying the structure of the flora and fauna communities which develop in intertidal bare mudflats, or colonize them, and by determining the biotic and abiotic factors structuring these communities. Flows of organic matter between these different communities are quantified and modelized to determine what are the properties of these habitats, and how they change, especially productivity. This research is carried out thanks to several methods, from molecular biology to taxonomy for the study of community structure, and from the study of gut contents to the use of trophic markers (stable isotopes, fatty acids) and models for the quantification of flows of organic matter. The data collected, gathered with outputs from models of primary production, provide information aiming at having a holistic approach of the functioning of these habitats.


Hélène Agogué
Pierrick Bocher
Christine Dupuy
Denis Fichet
Vincent Le Fouest
Benoit Lebreton


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publie le mardi 12 janvier 2021