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RESPONSE Report Summary

Project ID: Q5RS-2002-00787
Funded under: FP5-LIFE QUALITY
Country: Spain

Functional changes as indicators of trawling disturbance on benthic community from a fishing ground (NW Mediterranea)

Trawling activities disturb benthic communities eliminating the most vulnerable organisms and modifying the habitat structure. Further implications of commercial trawling activities are poorly understood, however various studies suggest that chronically disturbed communities are dominated by opportunistic organisms. This study focuses on a chronically disturbed community from a fishing ground to study the implications of commercial trawling on the functional traits of the benthic community.

The trawling ground is located in the NW Mediterranean, and includes an area that has not been fished in twenty years. Both fished and undisturbed areas were compared analysing the functional traits of the infaunal and epifaunal communities. Results showed that the overall benthic community from the fishing ground is mainly composed by epifaunal burrowing deposit feeders and predators, and deep burrowing infaunal deposit feeders. The comparison of both areas highlighted that the fished area had significantly higher abundance of large burrowing epifaunal scavengers and mobile burrowing infaunal organisms.

On the contrary, the undisturbed area was characterised by significantly higher abundance of more vulnerably surface organisms, such as sedentary suspension feeders. The relevance of this study is highlighted as an opportunity to investigate functional components of a benthic community from a fishing ground, and analyse how the community respond to trawling activities. We suggest that fisheries managers aiming to reduce ecosystem disturbance must consider the implications of trawling on the structure and functioning of the communities.


Montserrat DEMESTRE, (Researcher)
Tel.: +34-93-2309500
Fax: +34-93-2309555
Record Number: 43442 / Last updated on: 2006-11-28
Information source: e-TIP
Collaboration sought: Information exchange/Training
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