Investigation of benthic community change over a century-wide scale in the western English Channel

Capasso, E, Jenkins, SR, Frost, MT and Hinz, H 2010 Investigation of benthic community change over a century-wide scale in the western English Channel. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 90 (06). 1161-1172.

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Since the early part of the 20th Century the impact of a range of anthropogenic activities in our coastal seas has steadily increased. The effect of such activities is a major cause for concern but in the benthic environment few studies exist that date back more than a few decades. Hence understanding long term changes is a challenge. Within this study we utilized a historic benthic dataset and resurveyed an area west of Eddystone reef in the English Channel previously investigated 112 years ago. The aim of the present work was to describe the current benthic community structure and investigate potential differences between 1895 and 2007. For each of the four major phyla investigated (Polychaeta, Crustacea, Mollusca and Echinodermata), multivariate community analysis showed significant differences between the historic and contemporary surveys. Echinoderm diversity showed a clear reduction between 1895 and 2007. The sea urchins Echinus esculentus, Spatangus purpureus, and Psammechinus miliaris and large star-fish Marthasterias glacialis showed reductions in abundance, in some cases being entirely absent from the survey area in 2007. Polychaetes showed a shift from tubiculous species to small errant and predatory species such as Glycera, Nephtys, and Lumbrineris spp. Within the group Mollusca large species such as Pecten maximus and Laevicardium crassum decreased in abundance while small species increased. Crustaceans in 1895 were dominated by crab species which were present in similar abundances in 2007, but, the order Amphipoda appeared to show a significant increase. While some of the differences observed could stem from differences in methodologies between the surveys, in particular increases of small cryptic species, the loss of large conspicuous species was judged to be genuine. The study area is an important beam trawling and scallop dredging ground; the differences observed are concomitant with changes generally associated with disturbance from demersal fishing activities such as these.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Divisions: Marine Biological Association of the UK > Other (MBA)
Depositing User: Dr Matthew Frost
Date made live: 17 Nov 2015 13:05
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2024 16:57

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