Changes in a benthic megafaunal community due to disturbance from bottom fishing and the establishment of a fishery closure

Asch, Rebecca G. and Collie, Jeremy S. (2008) Changes in a benthic megafaunal community due to disturbance from bottom fishing and the establishment of a fishery closure. Fishery Bulletin, 106(4), pp. 438-456.

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Abstract

Trawling and dredging on Georges Bank (northwest Atlantic Ocean) have altered the cover of colonial epifauna, as surveyed through in situ photography. A total of 454 photographs were analyzed from areas with gravel substrate between 1994 and 2000 at depths of 40–50 m and 80–90 m. The cover of hydroids, bushy bryozoans, sponges, and tubeworms was generally higher at sites undisturbed by fishing than at sites classified as disturbed. The magnitude and significance of this effect depended on depth and year. Encrusting bryozoans were the only type of colonial epifauna positively affected by bottom fishing. Species richness of noncolonial epifauna declined with increased bottom fishing, but Simpson’s index of diversity typically peaked at intermediate levels of habitat disturbance. Species that were more abundant at undisturbed sites possessed characteristics that made them vulnerable to bottom fishing. These characteristics include emergent growth forms, soft body parts, low motility, use of complex microhabitats, long life spans, slow growth, and larval dispersal over short distances. After the prohibition of bottom fishing at one site, both colonial and noncolonial species increased in abundance. Populations of most taxa took two years or more to increase after the fishing closure. This finding indicates that bottom fishing needs to be reduced to infrequent intervals to sustain the benthic species composition of Georges Bank at a high level of biodiversity and abundance.

Item Type: Article
Title: Changes in a benthic megafaunal community due to disturbance from bottom fishing and the establishment of a fishery closure
Personal Creator/Author:
CreatorsEmail
Asch, Rebecca G.
Collie, Jeremy S.
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: Fishery Bulletin
Volume: 106
Number: 4
Page Range: pp. 438-456
Date: 2008
ISSN: 0090-0656
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Biology
Ecology
Fisheries
Item ID: 8825
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2012 17:54
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2012 17:54
URI: http://aquaticcommons.org/id/eprint/8825

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