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Identifying drivers of change in macrobenthos communities in the Belgian part of the North Sea
Brownlie, K. (2015). Identifying drivers of change in macrobenthos communities in the Belgian part of the North Sea. MSc Thesis. Marine Biology, Ghent University/Erasmus Mundus Master of Science in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (EMBC): Ghent. 45 pp.

Thesis info:

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Document type: Dissertation

    ANE, Belgium [Marine Regions]; ANE, France, North Sea
Author keywords
    Community structure; Spatio-temporal variability; Environmental variables

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  • Brownlie, K., more

    The spatio-temporal variability of macrobenthic communities and environmental variables in the Belgian part of the North Sea between 2002 and 2013 was investigated using univariate and multivariate analyses. Macrobenthic community structure was related to environmental variability to enhance the understanding of the relative importance of both local and broad scale environmental conditions on macrobenthic community dynamics. The Belgian continental shelf habitat varied both spatially and temporally in regards to water column parameters (temperature, salinity, suspended particulate matter (SPM), and chlorophyll a) and sediment properties. Clear spatial and temporal variability in the macrobenthic community was observed at the three stations which were the subject of this study. Each station varied in species composition, abundance, diversity and dominant taxa, and the observed temporal changes indicate that instability is characteristic for these macrobenthic communities. The environmental variables explained between 19 % and 42 % of the variability in macrobenthic community structure and differed for each station. Remaining variability must be explained by other factors, which could be either abiotic or biotic. The combination of the annual and winter North Atlantic Oscillation Index (NAOI), median grain-size, average summer chlorophyll a and annual average SPM showed the highest correlation with the variability in macrobenthic community structure.

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