Environmental controls and anthropogenic impacts on deep-sea sponge grounds in the Faroe-Shetland Channel, NE Atlantic: The importance of considering spatial scale to distinguish drivers of change

J. Vad, G. Kazanidis, L. A. Henry, D. O. B. Jones, A. R. Gates, J. M. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Determining the scale of anthropogenic impacts is critical in order to understand ecosystem effects of human activities, within the context of changes caused by natural environmental variability. We applied spatial eigenfunction analysis to disentangle effects of anthropogenic drivers from environmental factors on species assembly in the Faroe-Shetland Channel (FSC), in the northeast Atlantic. We found that the species assembly considered here was structured at both small and large spatial scales. Specifically, substrate types, distance to oil wells and pipelines, the presence of objects and demersal fishing (both static and mobile) appeared significant in explaining large spatial scale species assembly structures. Conversely, temperature and variance in temperature shaped the species community across smaller spatial scales. Mobile scavenger species were found in areas impacted by demersal fishing. Oil and gas structures seemed to provide a habitat for a range of species including the commercially important fishes Molva sp. and Sebastes sp. These results demonstrate how the benthic ecosystem in the FSC has been shaped by multiple human activities, at both small and large spatial scales. Only by sampling datasets covering several sites, like in this study, can the effects of anthropogenic activities be separated from natural environmental controls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-461
Number of pages11
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Volume77
Issue number1
Early online date19 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • anthropogenic impacts
  • deep-sea sponge grounds
  • Faroe-Shetland Channel
  • fisheries
  • megafauna
  • oil and gas
  • spatial scale
  • species assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology

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