MEPS 184:183-188 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps184183

Inferring changes in North Sea benthos from fish stomach analysis

C. L. J. Frid1,*, S. J. Hall2

1Dove Marine Laboratory, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Cullercoats, North Shields, Tyne and Wear NE30 4PZ, United Kingdom
2School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science & Engineering, The Flinders University of South Australia,GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia, Australia

ABSTRACT: In this study we formulated a priori hypotheses for the changes in the benthos that would be expected as a result of the direct impacts of trawl fisheries. These were tested using a data set comprising stomach contents for dab Limanda limanda collected in March and August in the early 1950s and a matched sample from 1996-97. Changes in samples taken in August were consistent with the hypothesised effects of fishing, with an increased prevalence of scavengers and decreased occurrence of sedentary polychaetes in the diet. There were also marked differences between the 1950s and 1996-97 for March samples due to the high prevalence of fish remains in the contemporary samples. While our results must be treated with caution, they are consistent with the hypothesis that there have been widespread long term changes in benthic communities due to fishing.


KEY WORDS: Dab · Stomach contents · Benthos · Fishing disturbance · North Sea


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