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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / Diversity and environmental control of benthic harpacticoids of an offshore post-dredging pit in coastal waters of Puck Bay, Baltic Sea

Lech Kotwicki, Maria Szymelfenig, Frank Fiers and Bozena Graca (2014)

Diversity and environmental control of benthic harpacticoids of an offshore post-dredging pit in coastal waters of Puck Bay, Baltic Sea

Marine Biology Research .

Placer extraction in Puck Bay, a shallow (3 m depth) area of the Baltic Sea, resulted in the formation of post-dredging pits. Such dredging activities led to a considerable local disturbance of the soft-bottom communities. Topography and sedimentary characteristics of the disturbed area have been radically changed. It is therefore a matter of concern as to whether these alterations to the environment resulted in any serious permanent changes to the biological communities in the affected areas. Benthic copepod assemblages were examined 10 years after termination of placer digging in one of the post-dredging pits and compared with the fauna in a natural depression (Kuźnicka Hollow) and on the shallow sandy bottom surrounding the pits. Samples were collected on four occasions in 2001–2003. This study has generated ecological information on the status of harpacticoid species inhabiting the dredged and undredged areas in the vicinity. Analyses of data showed that the sampling stations differed significantly, during all the sampling events, in harpacticoid abundance, taxonomic composition and Shannon–Wiener diversity index. The natural depression and the shallow sandy bottom of Puck Bay were found to support specific harpacticoid assemblages. Interstitial and sand-burrowing species (e.g. Paraleptastacus spinicauda) dominate the shallow sandy bottom, and the Kuźnicka Hollow is inhabited mainly by epibenthic and silt-burrowing species (e.g. Halectinosoma curticorne, Tachidius discipes, Microarthridion littorale). The post-dredging pit assemblage showed the presence of epibenthic species, e.g. Tachidius discipes, Dactylopusia euryhalina, and Stenhelia palustris, passively transported into the pit by wave action and currents, possibly with algal mats and/or plant remains. The taxonomic composition and occurrence of harpacticoid species in the post-dredging area is therefore random and accidental.

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