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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 595:15-26 (2018)  -  DOI:

Estimating similarity in benthic communities over decades and in areas open and closed to fishing in the central Gulf of Maine, USA

Samuel C. Asci1,3,*, Richard W. Langton2, Kevin D. E. Stokesbury1

1School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 836 South Rodney French Boulevard, New Bedford, MA 02744, USA
2Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Maine Field Station, 17 Godfrey Drive, Suite 1, Orono, ME 04473, USA
3Present address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The ledges and banks of the central Gulf of Maine (i.e. Fippennies Ledge, Jeffreys Ledge, Cashes Ledge, and Platts Bank) have supported groundfish and Atlantic sea scallop fisheries for centuries. The benthic community of Fippennies Ledge was evaluated and compared during 2 time periods separated by more than 2 decades, the first based on a series of photographs collected during manned submersible dives conducted in 1986 and 1987 and the second using photographs collected during drop camera video surveys conducted in 2009 to 2014. Further, Fippennies, Jeffreys, and Cashes ledges were permanently closed to fishing in 2002, while Platts Bank remained open, enabling a spatial comparison of benthic communities in open and closed areas along with the examination of changes in the benthos over the 28 yr period on Fippennies Ledge. In the absence of commercial fishing, the scallop population on Fippennies Ledge appeared to be unchanged between 1986 and 2014, while observed differences in other dominant species were attributed to predator-prey relationships and long-term shifts in benthic conditions. Benthos of scallop habitat in the open and closed areas between 2009 and 2014 were similar in spatially dominant species composition and species richness, likely a result of the study area being a high-energy environment and therefore resilient to both natural and fishing perturbations. Understanding change in benthic communities over decades and between open and closed areas helps better define the dynamic nature of the central Gulf of Maine and may inform fisheries management in this region as the ocean climate changes.

KEY WORDS: Benthic imaging · Population dynamics · Placopecten magellanicus

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Cite this article as: Asci SC, Langton RW, Stokesbury KDE (2018) Estimating similarity in benthic communities over decades and in areas open and closed to fishing in the central Gulf of Maine, USA. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 595:15-26.

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