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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 198:191-201 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps198191

Effects of shrimp-trawling on abundance of benthic macrofauna in Gullmarsfjorden, Sweden

Maria Hansson1,*, Mats Lindegarth2, Daniel Valentinsson1,3, Mats Ulmestrand1

1National Board of Fisheries, Institute of Marine Research, Box 4, 453 21 Lysekil, Sweden
2Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities, Marine Ecology Laboratories, A11, University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia
3Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory, 452 96 Strömstad, Sweden

ABSTRACT: Hypotheses about effects of shrimp-trawling on large benthic macrofauna were tested in a manipulative experiment in Gullmarsfjorden, Sweden. The experiment lasted 1.5 yr and included 3 trawl sites and 3 control sites, each of which was sampled at 4 times before and 4 times after trawling was commenced (a total of 480 samples). Gear and intensities were chosen to approximate those before trawling was prohibited 6 yr before the experiment. The overall trend was that biomass and abundances of animals decreased as a consequence of trawling but few taxa differed significantly among treatments. The mean abundance of echinoderms, in particular the brittlestars Amphiura sp., decreased significantly and substantially after 7 to 12 mo of trawling. In general, however, changes in abundances of animals from one time of sampling to another, and from before to after trawling started, differed among sites. General models based on size and feeding strategy did not accurately predict differences among taxa in sensitivity to disturbances. Differences in overall impacts between this and previous experiments are discussed in terms of fishing intensity, natural variability and experimental design.

KEY WORDS: Trawling · Disturbance · Benthic assemblage · Environmental impact · Variability

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