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The influence of prawn trawling on sessile benthic assemblages in Gulf St. Vincent, South Australia

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Abstract:

Most experimental studies on the effects of trawling on the benthos use remote sampling techniques and are conducted in recently trawled areas. Thus it is difficult to determine the effects of trawling on previously unfished areas, and the fates of individual animals cannot be followed. In this study, I follow the fates of individuals of several sessile taxa when exposed to experimental trawling in areas that have not been trawled for some 15–20 years. Although there was a significant trawling by location effect for all multivariate analyses and most individual taxa, I found that trawling had an overall negative effect on the benthos. Epifauna at trawled sites decreased in abundance by 28% within 2 weeks of trawling and by another 8% in the following 2–3 months (compared with control sites). Seasonal seagrasses were also less likely to colonise trawled sites than untrawled sites. The persistence of most taxa declined significantly in trawled areas compared with untrawled areas. In contrast to this, the recruitment rates of several taxa into visible size classes increased after trawling, presumably because of a reduction in competition.

La plupart des études des effets du chalutage sur le benthos utilisent des techniques d'échantillonnage à distance et sont menées sur des surfaces récemment soumises au chalutage. Il est ainsi difficile de déterminer les effets du chalutage sur des surfaces où on n'a pas encore pêché par chalutage et, de plus, le sort d'animaux individuels ne peut pas être suivi. La présente étude suit le sort de plusieurs taxons sessiles exposés à un chalutage expérimental à des sites sur lesquels on n'a pas pêché par chalutage depuis environ 15–20 ans. Il y a un effet significatif du chalutage × site dans toutes les analyses multidimensionnelles et pour la plupart des taxons considérés individuellement; l'effet global du chalutage est négatif pour le benthos. L'épifaune décline en abondance de 28 % en moins de 2 semaines après le chalutage et d'un 8 % supplémentaire dans les 2–3 mois qui suivent (par comparaison aux sites témoins). Les herbes marines saisonnières sont aussi moins susceptibles de coloniser les sites soumis au chalutage que les sites où il n'y a pas eu de pêche. La persistance de la plupart des taxons diminue de façon significative aux sites de chalutage par rapport aux sites sans chalutage. En revanche, les taux de recrutement de plusieurs classes de taille visibles augmentent chez de nombreux taxons après le chalutage, sans doute à cause d'une réduction de la compétition.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-05-01

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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