Habitat association of plaice, sole, and lemon sole in the English Channel

Hilmar Hinz*, Melanie Bergmann, Richard Shucksmith, Michel J. Kaiser, Stuart I. Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Flatfish have been the subject of scientific research since the beginning of the 19th century, but information on specific habitat requirements of adult life stages is incomplete. This study investigates the association between benthic habitat and the adult life stage of three flatfish species (plaice, sole, and lemon sole). Data from groundfish surveys spanning nine years were used to identify three distinct site groups: sites where a species was consistently abundant, sites of variable or low abundance, and sites at which no fish were caught. We hypothesize that these three site groups should represent a gradient in habitat suitability from highly suitable to unsuitable. Habitat parameters for each site group and species are described and analysed. Besides large-scale physical parameters, the importance of structuring epifauna and prey availability was investigated. Plaice and sole showed similar trends for most abiotic parameters, whereas lemon sole was found over distinctly different habitats. Sediment associations differed between the three species. No clear association was found between flatfish abundance, structuring epifauna, and prey availability within this study. Contradictory results between prey abundance assessed by grab samples and the nutritive state of plaice suggested that the sampling scale used might have been inappropriate to determine prey availability accurately. Plaice appear to sample prey more effectively at the appropriate spatial scales, so the nutritive state of the fish might be a more reliable indicator for prey availability and thus habitat quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)912-927
Number of pages16
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2006


  • emergent epifauna
  • English Channel
  • flatfish
  • habitat selection
  • prey availability
  • stomach contents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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