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Long-term development of macrozoobenthic communities in the German Bight: Climatic forcing and anthropogenic impacts

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Schröder, A. and Rachor, E. (2006): Long-term development of macrozoobenthic communities in the German Bight: Climatic forcing and anthropogenic impacts , 36th Annual Meeting of Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. 11.-25.9.2006, Bremen .
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Abstract:

The development and interannual variability of sublitoral soft bottom communities of the German Bight has been studied continuously at four representative permanent stations as well as by occasional large scale mappings during the last 35 years.The benthic communities show a large interannual variability as well as some changes on roughly decadal time scale. In accordance with large-scale system changes documented for the North Sea, also the composition of benthic communities changed since the late 1960ies.To estimate possible climatic and anthropogenic influences, the development of the benthic communities was correlated with various environmental data and compared to the development of anthropogenic factors.The main factors influencing the development of the benthic communities besides biological interactions are the climate, food availability (eutrophication) and the disturbance regime. The most common disturbances are sediment movements during strong storms or by bottom trawling gears; extremely cold winters and occasionally also hypoxia add important large-scale disturbing influences.Only these long-term series provide the background of natural variation against which the effects of human inferences like e.g. fisheries, offshore wind parks or sand extractions can be properly evaluated.

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