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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Sampling the benthos on a vast tidal flat with corer and sieves. Photo: Jan Drent

Beukema JJ, Dekker R


Half a century of monitoring macrobenthic animals on tidal flats in the Dutch Wadden Sea


Macrobenthic animals inhabiting a tidal-flat area in the westernmost part of the Wadden Sea were monitored for 50 yr (1970–2019) using consistent sampling methods. The most significant changes in population sizes and growth rates of several species could be attributed to climate warming (by about 2° C), along with increasing trends in species richness and late-winter zoobenthic biomass. Eutrophication state also played a role in the observed changes. No long-term trend in food supply for birds was observed. Disturbances from fishery were modest. No effects of sea-level rise were noted. We conclude that the uniquely and long monitoring of the tidal-flat macrozoobenthos yielded rich data which not only showed several long-term trends, but also contributed to our insight in underlying processes.


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