|Now an empty mudflat: past and present benthic abundances in the western Dutch Wadden Sea|
|Kraan, C.; Dekinga, A.; Piersma, T. (2011). Now an empty mudflat: past and present benthic abundances in the western Dutch Wadden Sea. Helgol. Mar. Res. 65(1): 51-58. dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10152-010-0200-9|
|In: Helgoland Marine Research. Springer: Berlin. ISSN 1438-387X, more|
Macrozoobenthos; Intertidal; Historical richness; Human impact; DutchWadden Sea
The benthic fauna of two areas in the western Dutch Wadden Sea, Posthuiswad and Staart van Schieringhals, was described in 1930-1960 and again between 1996 and 2005. Here, we document the changes. Whereas both areas formerly had high densities of species that biogenically structured the intertidal mudflats such as mussels Mytilus edulis and cockles Cerastoderma edule, by 1996 they had shown a tenfold decrease in the densities of molluscs, with no recovery till 2005. Although the number of species of polychaetes and crustaceans may not have changed much, their relative abundance did. Nowadays, more polychaete species are common than before. We briefly discuss whether the changes in benthic community composition could be due to industrial fishery practices or eutrophication effects.