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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 371:65-72 (2008)  -  DOI:

Partial recovery of infaunal communities during a fallow period at an open-ocean aquaculture

David T. Lin1,*, Julie H. Bailey-Brock1,2

1Department of Zoology, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, 2538 McCarthy Mall, Edmondson Hall 152, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96822, USA
2Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawai‘i at Ma-noa, 2540 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96822, USA

ABSTRACT: Open-ocean or offshore aquaculture has attracted recent controversy for its potential environmental impacts and proposed expansion in the USA. Organic enrichment of benthic marine communities has been documented extensively under nearshore fish farms—primarily from fish feces and feed pellets—but relatively few studies have examined the effects of deeper, offshore operations. In this study, we investigate the effects of a 6 mo non-operational fallow period on benthic invertebrate communities surrounding a commercial offshore fish farm. Polychaete species diversity and community structure were analyzed at distant reference sites and farm-adjacent affected sites before, during and after the fallow period. The relative abundances of 3 polychaete indicator species for organic enrichment were also analyzed. During the fallow period, community structure at affected sites became more similar to communities at distant reference sites. Additionally, the sudden disappearance of enrichment indicator species at previously affected sites during the fallow period further suggests the beginnings of a recovery. However, species diversity did not increase significantly during the fallow period, indicating that the affected communities had not been fully restored to pre-culture or distant reference conditions. This study demonstrates the potential environmental benefits of scheduled fallow periods or crop rotations in offshore aquaculture.

KEY WORDS: Aquaculture · Fallow · Recovery · Organic enrichment · Offshore · Indicator species · Polychaete · Hawai‘i

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Cite this article as: Lin DT, Bailey-Brock JH (2008) Partial recovery of infaunal communities during a fallow period at an open-ocean aquaculture. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 371:65-72.

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