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Exposure, vegetation and sediments as primary factors for mobile epibenthic faunal community structure and production in shallow marine soft bottom areas
Pihl, L. (1986). Exposure, vegetation and sediments as primary factors for mobile epibenthic faunal community structure and production in shallow marine soft bottom areas. Neth. J. Sea Res. 20(1): 75-83
In: Netherlands Journal of Sea Research. Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ): Groningen; Den Burg. ISSN 0077-7579, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

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  • Pihl, L.

Abstract
    Mobile epibenthic fauna was quantitatively assessed in 22 shallow-water (0-1.5 m), soft-bottom areas on the Swedish west coast. Relationships between faunal structure, density, biomass and annual production on the one hand, and physical factors such as exposure, vegetation cover and sediment structure on the other, were investigated. The areas were grouped according to their physical characteristics into 4 categories: exposed, semi-exposed and sheltered with little or no vegetation and vegetated. Species number, density, biomass and annual production were shown to be significantly higher in vegetated areas (Zostera marina L.) than in mainly unvegetated ones. The epibenthic production in Z. marina meadows was 6 g (AFDW)·m-2·y-1. Species composition was also different and Carcinus maenas L. was the only dominant species occurring in both vegetated and unvegetated areas. In all unvegetated areas the number and composition of species were about the same, regardless of exposure, whereas biomass and production varied with the degree of exposure. Highest production (3 to 5.5 g (AFDW)·m-2·y-1) in these areas was found in semi-exposed areas. In exposed and sheltered areas production was 1.1 to 3.3 g and 0.6 to 1.7 g (AFDW)·m-2·y-1, respectively. Degree of exposure, vegetation cover and sediment structure are suggested as the primary factors affecting the composition and quantity of mobile epibenthic fauna in the investigated areas. Biotic factors e.g. predation and competition are generally considered to be subordinate to these physical factors.

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