Differences in biological traits composition of benthic assemblages between unimpacted habitats

S. G. Bolam, C. Garcia, J. Eggleton, A. J. Kenny, L. Buhl-Mortensen, G. Gonzalez-Mirelis, T. van Kooten, G. Dinesen, J. Hansen, J. G. Hiddink, M. Sciberras, C. Smith, N. Papadopoulou, A. Gumus, G. Van Hoey, O. R. Eigaard, F. Bastardie, A. D. Rijnsdorp

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Abstract

There is an implicit requirement under contemporary policy drivers to understand the characteristics of benthic communities under anthropogenically-unimpacted scenarios. We used a trait-based approach on a large dataset from across the European shelf to determine how functional characteristics of unimpacted benthic assemblages vary between different sedimentary habitats. Assemblages in deep, muddy environments unaffected by anthropogenic disturbance show increased proportions of downward conveyors and surface deposit-feeders, while burrowing, diffusive mixing, scavenging and predation traits assume greater numerical proportions in shallower habitats. Deep, coarser sediments are numerically more dominated by sessile, upward conveyors and suspension feeders. In contrast, unimpacted assemblages of coarse sediments in shallower regions are proportionally dominated by the diffusive mixers, burrowers, scavengers and predators. Finally, assemblages of gravelly sediments exhibit a relatively greater numerical dominance of non-bioturbators and asexual reproducers. These findings may be used to form the basis of ranking habitats along a functional sensitivity gradient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Volume126
Early online date23 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

Keywords

  • Biological traits
  • European shelf
  • Infauna
  • Unimpacted assemblages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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    Bolam, S. G., Garcia, C., Eggleton, J., Kenny, A. J., Buhl-Mortensen, L., Gonzalez-Mirelis, G., van Kooten, T., Dinesen, G., Hansen, J., Hiddink, J. G., Sciberras, M., Smith, C., Papadopoulou, N., Gumus, A., Van Hoey, G., Eigaard, O. R., Bastardie, F., & Rijnsdorp, A. D. (2017). Differences in biological traits composition of benthic assemblages between unimpacted habitats. Marine Environmental Research, 126, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marenvres.2017.01.004