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Spatial and temporal characteristics of benthic invertebrate communities at Culbin Sands lagoon, Moray Firth, NE Scotland, and impacts of the disturbance of cockle harvesting
Vanda Mariyam Mendonça, David George Raffaelli, Peter Boyle and Steve Hoskins

In the present study, Culbin Sands lagoon, a protected site in NE Scotland, was surveyed every 2 to 4 weeks during a three-year period (1994-1996) to study benthic invertebrate communities. Beds of Mytilus edulis covered 18000 m2. 53 macroinfaunal species were identified outside these areas. The most conspicuous were: the lugworm Arenicola marina (mean up to 55 casts m-2); and bivalves Cerastoderma edule (mean up to 158 ind. m-2) and Macoma balthica (mean up to 79 ind. m-2) after settlement. The standing stock ranged from 20 to 32 g AFDW m-2 yr-1 respectively from more exposed to more sheltered areas. Most species showed a clear recruitment peak in autumn, but others (e.g. Capitella capitata, and Spionidae) displayed several peaks in a year. Communities were also compared between the sampling sites before and after an incidental disturbance caused by cockle Cerastoderma edule harvesting, which took place in June 1995. One site showed –0.7% variation in the total standing stock, but +22% for smaller-cockles, as larger filter-feeding cockles were removed therefore enhancing their own larval settlement. Polychaete Spionidae populations also increased after larger cockles were removed. The polychaete Arenicola marina population returned to its normal activities just after the dramatic disturbance of the sediment.

Keywords: benthic invertebrates, Arenicola marina, Cerastoderma edule, Spionidae, Culbin Sands, recruitment, cockle harvesting.
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 72(2) : 265-278 Back PDF
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