Demersal fish and epifauna associated with sandbank habitats

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Kaiser, M. J. , Bergmann, M. , Hinz, H. , Galanidi, M. , Shucksmith, R. , Rees, E. I. S. , Darbyshire, T. and Ramsay, K. (2004): Demersal fish and epifauna associated with sandbank habitats , Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, 60456, 445 .
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A habitat specific survey of the epifauna and fish fauna of sandbanks off the Welsh coastline was undertaken in 2001. Of these,three sandbanks were considered to represent extensions of shallow nearshore soft-sediment communities, while a further sixsandbanks were considered to be distinct sandbanks; seabed features clearly defined in comparison with surrounding sediments.Multivariate community analyses revealed that the distinct sandbanks had both fish and epifaunal assemblages that were distinctfrom those sandbanks considered to be extensions of nearshore sediments. The distinct sandbanks were typified by low speciesdiversity and shared indicator species such as the weever fish Echiichthys vipera, the shrimp Philocheras trispinosus and the hermitcrab Pagurus bernhardus. Differences occurred in species composition among the distinct sandbanks, in particular, southernsandbanks were typified by sand sole Solea lascaris and small-eyed ray Raja microocellata. The sandbanks considered as extensionsof nearshore sediments shared many similarities with the Pleuronectes platessaLimanda limanda assemblage, identified by Ellis et al.(Estuar. Coastal Shelf Sci. 51 (2000) 299), which is widespread in the Irish Sea. Sandbanks, as a habitat definition under the EUhabitats directive, are likely to incorporate a number of physically and biologically distinct habitats of which two have beendescribed in the present study.

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