Who lives where? Macrobenthic species distribution over sediment types and depth classes in the eastern North Sea

Werner.Armonies [ at ] awi.de


An extensive data set of macrozoobenthos from the eastern North Sea was evaluated in order to describe the distribution of infaunal species with respect to water depth and median grain size of the sediment. The resulting data are presented for 134 species, in 104 species abundance correlated significantly with water depth, with most species decreasing in abundance towards the hydrographically turbulent shallow areas. This suggests hydrography is a limiting factor for most of the species in this area while very few species only seem to favour the turbulent side of the gradient. With respect to median grain size, two thirds of the species showed significant abundance variations and one third did not. Most of the latter species were either represented by rather poor data or are known to be highly motile. Thus, true sediment generalists seem to be few. Conversely, no species was exclusively restricted to a single sediment type. Significant depth × sediment type interaction terms in a regression model indicate that abundance distribution over sediment types varied with depth level in 60% of the species, indicating that these populations were restricted to a part of their species-specific tolerated ranges in the study area. Hence, the distributional patterns over water depth and sediment types shown here represent realised niches. These data may help to locate populations and, in the light of global change, may serve as a baseline for future comparisons.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Research Networks
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1186/s10152-021-00552-1

Cite as
Armonies, W. (2021): Who lives where? Macrobenthic species distribution over sediment types and depth classes in the eastern North Sea , Helgoland Marine Research, 75 (1) . doi: 10.1186/s10152-021-00552-1

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