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MEPS 694:13-27 (2022)  -  DOI:

Effects of bottom trawling and hypoxia on benthic invertebrate communities

P. Daniël van Denderen1,2,*, Anna Törnroos3, Marija Sciberras4, Hilmar Hinz5, René Friedland6, Rafal Lasota7, Maria Cristina Mangano8, Craig Robertson9, Sebastian Valanko10, Jan Geert Hiddink9

1Centre for Ocean Life, DTU Aqua, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
2Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI 02882, USA
3Environmental and Marine Biology, Faculty of Science and Engineering, The Sea research profile, Åbo Akademi University, 20520 Turku, Finland
4The Lyell Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, EH14 4AP, UK
5Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies, IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Marine Ecosystem Dynamics, 07190 Esporles, Balearic Islands, Spain
6Leibniz-Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, 18119 Rostock, Germany
7University of Gdansk, Faculty of Oceanography and Geography, Institute of Oceanography, Department of Marine Ecosystems Functioning, 81-378 Gdynia, Poland
8Department of Integrative Marine Ecology (EMI), Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Sicily, 98167 Messina, Italy
9Bangor University, School of Ocean Sciences, Menai Bridge, LL59 5AB, UK
10International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, Copenhagen, 1553, Denmark
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Marine benthic habitats in continental shelf regions are increasingly impacted by hypoxia caused by the combination of eutrophication and climate warming. Many regions that have the potential for hypoxic conditions are being fished by mobile bottom-contacting fishing gears. The combined effects of trawling and hypoxia may be synergistic and disproportionally impact benthic fauna, or they may act antagonistically, leading to smaller trawl impacts in hypoxic areas. Yet, few studies have quantified how bottom trawling and hypoxia interact to affect benthic communities. Here we examine these combined effects on benthic community biomass and abundance, the number of large organisms, the longevity distribution of the community and the vertical position of fauna in the sediment in the southern Baltic Sea. We find large declines in benthic biomass and abundance that co-occur with declines in near-bed oxygen concentrations from 5.8 to 0.8 ml O2 l-1. Conversely, no relationships and weak positive relationships are found between bottom trawl disturbance and benthic community biomass and abundance. No interacting effects between hypoxia and trawling are detected. Our findings therefore highlight a low likelihood of synergistic impacts of bottom trawling and hypoxia on the benthic communities studied. These results suggest that management may prioritize benthic protection from fishing in regions that are not in a state of oxygen stress.

KEY WORDS: Bottom-trawling · Hypoxia · Baltic Sea · Macrofauna · Body size · Longevity · Vertical position · Sediment

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Cite this article as: van Denderen PD, Törnroos A, Sciberras M, Hinz H and others (2022) Effects of bottom trawling and hypoxia on benthic invertebrate communities. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 694:13-27.

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