Since the environmental impacts of anthropogenetic force per unit areas have become more accepted, the employment of spacial direction schemes has increased. However, in order to make this, it is indispensable to understand the environmental drivers and spacial distributions of Marine gatherings. In the present survey, the epibenthic communities within the highly-industrialised Firth of Clyde were investigated utilizing a beam spiller at four separate locations South of the Isle of Cumbrae. Sediment type was found to be the chief driver act uponing species distribution, nevertheless high degrees of substrate heterogeneousness reduced the unsimilarity between spiller gimmicks forestalling farther illations to be drawn. Biological interactions, such as prey handiness, and human perturbation were besides found to act upon the distribution of species within the Firth. Particular species such as Alcyonium digitatum and Munida rugosa were found at extremely high Numberss, whereas those antecedently commercially fished for, such as Pleuronectes platessa, were about absent from the gimmick. Commercial fishing has dramatically altered the biodiversity within the Firth of Clyde, and may go on to make so in the hereafter.

Keywords: epifaunal gatherings, Firth of Clyde, spacial distribution, heterogeneousness, deposit


First documented in the fourteenth century, beam spillers have long been employed in the fishing industry, and are presently used extensively in the North and Irish seas as a agency of catching flatfish such as plaice ( Pleuronectes platessa ) , and sole ( Solea Solea ) ( Kaiser and Spencer, 1995 ) . In add-on to benthic fish, big Numberss of invertebrates – including some infauna – are besides on a regular basis sampled utilizing the spiller. This is due to the cogwheel ‘s tickler ironss perforating the topmost few centimeters of the deposit to better fishing efficiency ( Kaiser and Spencer, 1996 ) . As a consequence, beam spiller are besides normally used in environmental epibenthic studies to supply a semi-quantitative estimation of the entire copiousness of beings within the designated country, and to measure gathering alterations as a consequence of environmental conditions or human activity ( Rogers and Lockwood, 1989 ) .

Since the environmental impacts of anthropogenetic force per unit areas such as commercial piscaries, conveyance paths and energy production have been recognized, the employment of spacial direction schemes and other holistic attacks has increased ( Reiss et al, 2010 ) . However, in order to set about such direction and preservation, it is indispensable to understand the environmental drivers of Marine gatherings, and the construction and spacial distributions exhibited by such communities. The benthal macrofauna are of peculiar importance due to their function in detrital decomposition ( Andersen and Kristensen, 1992 ) , alimentary cycling ( Covich et al. , 1999 ) and as nutrient for higher trophic degrees ( Ojeda and Dearborn, 1991 ) .

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Over 60 old ages, long-run alterations in benthal communities within the North Sea have been recorded as a consequence of development by piscaries, and supply valuable information for ecosystem direction and preservation ( Frid et al. , 2000 ) . Here, the authoritative surveies by Peterson ( 1914, 1918 ) foremost recognised the importance of deposit type in respects to the spacial distribution of benthal beings. This is peculiarly of import for sessile beings and besides for filter feeders for which all right deposits would present troubles ( Bricelj and Malouf, 1984 ; Ellis et al. , 2002 ) . Other environmental factors such as temperature, deepness and currents have besides been suggested as grounds for the distribution of benthal gatherings ( Frauenheim, 1989 ; Zuhlke et al. , 1991 ; Jennings et al. , 1999 ) . In add-on, biological interactions, such as predator-prey relationships and bioturbation, have been recognised as supplying farther spacial and temporal heterogeneousness within single home ground types ( Rhoads, 1974 ; Warwick and Uncles, 1980 ) . However, in a big figure of surveies, sediment type remains the regulating factor sing species distribution ( Jones, 1950 ; Young and Rhoads, 1971 ; Bloom et al. , 1972 ; Lough et al. , 1989 ; Amezcua and Nash, 2001 ) .

Due to its high degrees of shelter, the Firth of Clyde contains all right deposit with comparatively big proportions of silt and clay ( Tuck et al. , 1997 ) . As a deepwater port, and place to the UK ‘s primary installation for coal imports, the Firth receives considerable inputs of anthropogenetic activity and pollution ( Edgar et al. , 1999 ) . Webster et Al. ( 2005 ) described the Firth as arguably one of the most to a great extent contaminated H2O organic structures in Scotland, with its largest beginning of contaminations derived from a historical sewerage disposal site South of the Isle of Bute. Despite its expiration in 1998, elevated concentrations of hint metals and altered benthal communities are still being reported as a consequence ( Mojtahid et al. , 2008 ; Webster et al. , 2008 ) .

Dredging of the channel to keep the deep waterways besides remains a considerable menace to benthic communities, as does dredging for crenations ( Pecten maximus ) and trawling for other commercially of import species such as the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus ( Kaiser and Spencer, 1996 ; Hauton et al. , 2003 ) . Seagrass screen and maerl home grounds have been found to significantly diminish as a consequence, taking to subsequent losingss in associated biodiversity ( Spencer and Moore, 2000 ; Thurstan and Roberts, 2010 ) . Additionally, overfishing of demersal fish has besides led to important alterations in benthal gatherings: landings of whiting, flounder, pod and hake have dramatically decreased by up to 99 % since 1984 ( Thurstan and Roberts, 2010 ) , taking to the closing of such demersal piscaries at the start of the twenty-first century ( McIntyre et al. , 2012 ) . Just late, a survey conducted within the Firth suggested that the ecosystem may be retrieving, and has led to uncertainness sing the dependability of the old informations compiled by Thurstan and Roberts ( 2010 ) ( Heath and Speirs, 2011 ) .

The purpose of this survey was to supply semi-quantitative informations sing the presence and comparative copiousness of epifaunal species upon the soft substrata of a sheltered country within the Firth of Clyde. The eating and trophic wonts of beings within the gatherings were besides investigated, aboard spacial distributions in respects to substrate type. All of the aforesaid anthropogenetic inputs could besides hold direct impacts upon the consequences of this survey.


2.1 Study country and study design

The Firth of Clyde is situated on the western seashore of Scotland, dwelling of a big country of coastal H2O and several little islands. The H2O within the Firth is sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by the Kintyre Peninsula, and as a consequence, the bulk of substrata by and large consist of mulct, boggy deposits ( Tuck et al. , 1997 ) . Possessing a individual town, Millport, on the South of the island, the Isle of Cumbrae is situated about 1 stat mi from the mainland and is farther sheltered by environing islands within the Firth. Located near to the town, the University Marine Biological Station Millport ( UMBSM ) on a regular basis undertakes sampling of the environing benthic division biodiversity. Sampling during this survey took topographic point in the Waterss south to south E of the Isle of Cumbrae, where high degrees of shelter were present, and where the impacts of pollution may besides be evident.

2.2. Sampling methodological analysis and processing

During late June, 2012, four separate locations environing the Isles of Cumbrae in the Fairlie Channel were sampled aboard the UMBSM RV Aora ( 55°44’N ; 04°55’W ) . A 3m beam spiller fitted with a 70mm stretched mesh ( 35mm from knot to knot ) was employed with continuances ranged from 10 to 21 proceedingss at a velocity of 2.3 to 2.8 knots ( Table 1 ) . Due to differences in towing way and local currents, towing velocity varied. The start and finish coordinates were logged onboard the trawler ; the waies of each of the spiller are displayed in Figure 1. Trawl 1 and 2 were positioned in comparatively close propinquity to one another, whilst Trawls 3 and 4 were taken a similar distance apart about 1 mile South. Whilst the deepnesss of each of the spiller varied, the H2O environing the Isles of Cumbrae is by and large instead deep, maintained due to dredging to let big boats to make the transportation terminus. The continuance, deepness and velocity of each of the four spiller are shown in Table 1, aboard the dominant sediment-type ( s ) thought to be present in the country.

Particularly big gimmicks were sub-sampled by 50 % , and so comparative copiousness counts for those spillers were subsequently doubled to let semi-quantitative comparing between all trawl locations. In this survey, Trawls 1, 2, and 4 were sub-sampled onboard straight after the completion of the spiller. Subsequently, intertidal algae were removed from the sample and the staying beings were retained and subsequently identified as closely to species degree as possible at the research lab. The most abundant species and general taxa were counted, to supply comparative copiousness information for each site.

2.3 Data analysis

Raw information was inputted into Excel and subsequently transferred to the statistical bundle, SPSS ( Statistical Package for Social Sciences ) version 19.0, for analysis. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov trial was foremost applied to prove for normalcy in the distribution of the information, and so the appropriate parametric trials were undertaken. The significance degree of 0.05 was employed. Differences in species copiousnesss between spiller sites were tested by the Independent Samples T-test. To farther comparison species diverseness between trawl locations, the similarity index, Sorensen ‘s Qualitative Index, was used:

Sorensen ‘s Qualitative Index: Cs = 2j__

( a + B )

3. Result

3.1. Abundance of epifauna

A sum of 71 species were sampled across all four beam spiller, including crustaceans ( 17 ) , coelenterates ( 15 ) , echinoderms ( 11 ) and fish ( 9 ) . Of the 71 species, 49 were nonparasitic and 22 were sessile. All sessile beings encountered were suspension feeders. A complete list of all species encountered, and their presence/absence at each site, is provided at the terminal of this study ( Appendix ) . The most abundant species was the soft coral, Alcyonium digitatum ; in Trawl 2, there was an estimated copiousness of 598 persons ( Figure 2 ) . Trawls 1 and 2 had high Numberss of A. digitatum as opposed to Trawl 3 and 4 ( Figure 2 ) . Similarly, chunky lobsters ( Munida rugosa ) were besides extremely legion ; 368 persons were sampled in Trawl 2. As found with A. digitatum, Trawl 1 and Trawl 2 collected big Numberss of knee bend lobsters, yet Trawls 3 and 4 did non ( Figure 2 ) . Although merely little copiousnesss were sampled, whelks such as Buccinum undatum were merely present in Trawls 1 and 2.

A assortment of species were found in comparatively big Numberss during Trawl 4 as opposed to the remainder of the spiller ( Figure 2 ) . For illustration, anchorite pediculosis pubiss, such as Pagurus bernhardus and Pagurus prideaux, were collected in significantly higher copiousnesss in Trawl 4 as opposed to Trawl 1-3 ( Independent Samples T-test: T = 14.850, P = 0.004, df = 2 ) . Similarly, the common sea star, Asterias rubens, was besides found in significantly higher Numberss in Trawl 4 ( Independent Samples T-test: T = 7. 401, P = 0.018, df = 2 ) . Flatfish were besides sampled and a similar form was recorded ( Independent Samples T-test: T = 26.500, P = 0.001, df = 2 ) . In Trawl 4, 63 persons were sampled, whilst a average norm of 9 ( SD = 1.73 ) persons were sampled throughout Trawls 1-3.

In contrast, some species were found in highly low Numberss, with small fluctuation between trawl locations. For illustration, no bosom urchins were sampled at all during this survey, and comparatively few brickle stars were sampled either. Smooth-armed brickle stars were low to remove across the whole of the survey site, whilst spiny-armed brittlestars were somewhat more abundant but were still comparatively scarce ( max. 6 per spiller ) . Interestingly, really low Numberss of N. norvegicus were collected throughout the survey: the being was absent from Trawls 1 to 3, and merely 8 were present in Trawl 4. Scorpionfish ( chiefly Myoxocephalus Scorpius ) were besides found in instead low Numberss.


3.2. Comparison between sites

Table 2 illustrates the qualitative similarity found between all four spiller sites in respects to species composing. There was no great unsimilarity found between any of the four sites: values generated by the Sorensen ‘s Qualitative Index ranged from 0.44 – 0.58, where 1.00 indicates complete similarity and 0.00 indicates complete unsimilarity. In footings of species composing, the most similar beam spiller sites were 1 and 4 ( 0.58 ) , whilst the most dissimilar were 2 and 3 ( 0.438 ) . However, due to the low scope between the values produced, really small farther information can be drawn from the consequences of this analysis.

4. Discussion

4.1. Macrobenthic gatherings and drivers of distribution

The consequences of this survey suggest that a lower limit of two separate gatherings were sampled. The first was sampled by Trawls 1 and 2, whilst the 2nd gathering was sampled by Trawls 3 and 4. This was indicated by comparatively big Numberss of A. digitatum and knee bend lobsters in Trawls 1 and 2 as opposed to Trawl 3 and 4 ( Figure 2 ) . However, the extremely high Numberss of anchorite pediculosis pubiss and A. Rubenss in Trawl 4 suggest that there may be a 3rd distinguishable gathering sampled. Such disparate species composings may be a consequence of meeting assorted sediment types ( Peterson, 1914 ) .

The octocoral, A. digitatum, had its highest copiousnesss in Trawls 1 and 2, as the deposit in this country is thought to incorporate some difficult substrate such as setts to which the being can attach. The coral was found in lower copiousnesss in Trawls 3 and 4 as here there is a larger sum of soft substrate and hence fewer feasible fond regard points for the soft coral. Furthermore, being a inactive suspension feeder ( Fabricus et al. , 1995 ) the boggy deposit may present troubles if re-suspended. All right deposits are declarative of high shelter and low-velocity H2O motions ( Little, 2000 ) , yet A. digitatum is reliant on ambient currents to travel plankton and other nutrient atoms towards its eating constructions ( Migne and Davoult, 2002 ) . Therefore, the lower copiousness of A. digitatum sampled by Trawls 3 and 4 may be a consequence of a lower H2O speed and deposit grain size.

With its diet chiefly dwelling of A. digitatum and booming in such current-exposed locations, the sea slug, Tritonia hombergii, was present in all four beam spiller samples ( Thompson, 1962 ) . Although no quantitative information was recorded for this being, it can be assumed that more T. hombergii were present at the locations of Trawls 1 and 2 due to its close association with A. digitatum. As stated antecedently, all sessile beings encountered had a suspension-feeding trophic manner, and really few sedimentation feeding beings were recorded. This infers that the deposit type was sandy to tauten clay ( Rhoads and Young, 1970 ) . Such trophic group segregation ( as a consequence of differing tonss of suspended nutrient ) has been often reported over big countries, and may explicate why so few sedimentation feeders were sampled during this survey ( Sanders, 1960 ; Parker, 1963 ) .

Spiny-armed brickle stars were besides encountered in low Numberss ; they regularly form discrete, heavy collections so it is possible that they were present within the country but were missed by the spiller. Similarly, smooth-armed toffee stars were besides sampled in low Numberss. However, this may be due to their penchant for clean sand which was non peculiarly abundant at the survey site. This is consistent with the consequences of this survey in which the spiller that passed over substrate types such as soft clay, setts and shells did non meet any such species.

4.2. Sediment type and substrate heterogeneousness

Despite trying four purportedly different sedimentary home grounds, the differences between full species composings at each site were non significant, deducing that the species diverseness may non hold been wholly dependent upon sediment type. Furthermore, one would hold expected the species composings found at sites closest to one other to be the most similar ; nevertheless, this was non the instance. This result may be an mistake ensuing from the statistical index used, in which the sample sites were merely compared qualitatively, taking to less accurate informations being produced. The differences in species abundance between sites were non taken into history hence little alterations in species diverseness were non discernable. Due to the little scope of values produced, and the dependability of the index frequently questioned, really small can be farther inferred.

Interestingly, Zuhlke et Al. ( 2001 ) besides found that deposit type showed no important relationship in respects to species profusion. Furthermore, no statistically important correlativity was produced between deposit clay content and epifaunal copiousness at 255 Stationss in the North Sea ( Reiss et al. , 2010 ) . However, both this current survey and that undertaken by Reiss et Al. ( 2010 ) employed beam spiller as a agency of roll uping epifaunal informations, and it can be argued that deposit type was non accurately sampled. It is by and large impractical to roll up sedimentary samples along the whole of the spiller transect, so sedimentary conditions may either be characterised by the consequences of a 0.1 m grab prior to the tow ( as in Reiss et al. , 2010 ) , or through the usage of ocular review and old cognition sing the sample site ( as used in this survey ) . As suggested by Rees et Al. ( 1999 ) , a combination of submerged picture taking and acoustic methods may work out the job associated with mapping the deposit throughout the spiller. Due to the inevitable substrate heterogeneousness nowadays within all sampling locations, it is possible that in this survey a figure of sediment types were sampled throughout each spiller, and were non entirely represented by the sediment information provided. This would explicate the higher-than-expected similarity between trying sites. It is besides of import to observe that merely a subsample of each population was documented during this survey: the epifaunal gatherings at each site were non to the full recorded by the spiller, and a figure of species presently present within the survey location may non hold been sampled.

For illustration, a comparatively low figure of fish were collected utilizing the beam spiller. All species present in the gimmick were benthal, and no oceanic craniates were recorded. This is perchance a combined consequence of net turning away behavior and the low place of the spiller within the H2O column. Alternatively, there may merely be a low copiousness of benthal fish nowadays within the sample sites due to sediment penchants or nutrient handiness. This is consistent with low Numberss of Scorpio fish ( e.g. M. Scorpius ) , which favour bouldery substrate ( Stal et al. , 2007 ) of which there was small throughout the survey country. Highest Numberss of such fish were present within Trawls 1 and 2 where setts were thought to be present ( Figure 2 ; Table 1 ) .

Furthermore, Trawl 4 passed over substrate chiefly characterised by soft claies ( Table 1 ) , and here, highest copiousnesss of flatfish were sampled as opposed to Trawl 1 to 3. This reflects the enhanced ability for the benthal beings to bury themselves in the finer deposit ( Damalas et al. , 2009 ) . Such penchants have been reported by Gibson and Robb ( 2005 ) in which research lab experiments demonstrated that juvenile P. platessa systematically settled on the finest of four deposits. However, opposing results have been reported in the Wadden Sea where plaice were absent from muddy sites and distribution was chiefly attributed to feed copiousness ( Jager et al. , 1999 ) . Habitat selectivity has besides been found to diminish with being age and size ( Stoner and Ottmar, 2003 ) . It, hence, may be an accretion of such factors which has led to flatfish being present within all four beam spiller. Flatfish, in peculiar larger beings, may go forth finer deposits in order to seek for higher copiousnesss of quarry as the demand to stay inhumed from oceanic marauders ( Ansell and Gibson, 1993 ) is reduced when larger sizes are reached ( Stoner and Ottmar, 2003 ) . Flatfish quarry includes bottom-dwelling crustaceans and other little invertebrates such as polychetes and pelecypods ( Gibson et al. , 1998 ) .

4.3. Sampling Nephrops norvegicus copiousness

The crustacean, N. norvegicus, is of high commercial importance within the Firth of Clyde, with the Nephrops piscary landings worth an estimated ?89.3 million in 2006 ( Milligan et al. 2009 ) . Despite their obvious copiousness within the Firth, really few persons were sampled during this survey ( Figure 2 ) . Large local fluctuations in N. norvegicus densenesss, size composing and growing have been studied, and are peculiarly evident within the uninterrupted Nephrops bed in the Firth of Clyde ( Bailey et al. , 1986 ; Tuck et al. , 1997 ) . It is now accepted that differences in sediment type influence the ability of the crustaceans to build suited tunnels, and hence their distribution, as soft muddy deposits are preferred ( Chapman and Bailey, 1987 ; Smith and Papadopoulou, 2003 ) . Due to their burrowing life style, and variableness in outgrowth forms, the current spiller gimmick rates are ill representative of the N. norvegicus population ( Chapman and Rice, 1971 ; Campbell et al. , 2009 ) . Furthermore, the low catchability of the cogwheel, particularly in respects to engage size, farther prevented dependable samples to be undertaken.

This survey employed a beam spiller with a mesh size of 70mm, whereas Tuck et Al. ( 1997 ) used a 22mm mesh, and was able to try significant densenesss of the being. In contrast, a recent survey utilizing a 70mm mesh found significant populations of N. norvegicus in countries identified as heavily-trawled locations ( Murray and Cowie, 2011 ) which were close to Trawl 3 and 4 in this probe. However, the survey undertook the spiller to co-occur with eating and outgrowth forms of the crustacean. It has been found that the Norway lobster provenders at the hours of 10pm – 2am and 6am – 10am ( Parslow-Williams et al. , 2007 ) . This is consistent with the consequences of the current survey in which Trawl 4 was the lone spiller undertaken before 10am, and besides the lone spiller to hold N. norvegicus nowadays within the gimmick. Therefore, it is clear that if such species are to be studied farther, greater attention must be undertaken to guarantee trawls coincide with outgrowth forms associating to surge, clip of twenty-four hours and ambient visible radiation degrees ( Tuck et al. , 1997 ) .

4.4 Environmental deductions of fishing within the Firth of Clyde

High degrees of otter trawling and bottom perturbation, through piscary activity, have altered the biodiversity within the Firth of Clyde ( Thurstan and Roberts, 2010 ) . Landings of pod and whiting have reduced by up to 99 % between 1985 and 2009, with similar flights documented for plaice, flounder and haddock ( Thurstan and Roberts, 2010 ) . Such findings may explicate the low copiousnesss of flatfish sampled during this survey. Decreases in such fish have enabled the detonation of N. norvegicus and P.maximus copiousnesss due to cut down predation ( Thomas, 1965 ) and the less complex environments brought approximately by underside trawling and dredging ( Thurstan and Roberts, 2010 ) . Discards from the Nephrops piscary are well big, with 9kg of by-catch for every 1kg of N. norvegicus caught ( Bergmann et al. , 2002 ) . The low endurance rate of such beings one time re-entered to the H2O ( Bergmann and Moore, 2001 ) echoes the considerable impacts such piscaries are holding upon the biodiversity within the Firth.

Further indirect impacts upon benthal communities have been recorded, such as alterations in deposit size and composing after long periods of dredging activity ( Bradshaw et al. , 2002 ) . The immediate re-suspension of finer sediment fractions finally leads to the coarsening of marine deposit ( Langton and Robinson, 1990 ) . Bing as deposit type is regarded as the chief environmental driver of species distribution and gathering composing, it can be concluded that the biodiversity within the Firth of Clyde may go on to change in response to the current inputs of anthropogenetic activity and fishing attempt.


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