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Environmental controls and anthropogenic impacts on deep-sea sponge grounds in the Faroe-Shetland Channel, NE Atlantic: the importance of considering spatial scale to distinguish drivers of change

Vad, J; Kazanidis, G; Henry, L-A; Jones, D O B; Gates, A R; Roberts, J M; Birchenough, Silvana. 2019 Environmental controls and anthropogenic impacts on deep-sea sponge grounds in the Faroe-Shetland Channel, NE Atlantic: the importance of considering spatial scale to distinguish drivers of change. ICES Journal of Marine Science. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsz185

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Abstract/Summary

Determining the scale of anthropogenic impacts is critical in order to understand ecosystem effects of human activities, within the context of changes caused by natural environmental variability. We applied spatial eigenfunction analysis to disentangle effects of anthropogenic drivers from environmental factors on species assembly in the Faroe-Shetland Channel (FSC), in the northeast Atlantic. We found that the species assembly considered here was structured at both small and large spatial scales. Specifically, substrate types, distance to oil wells and pipelines, the presence of objects and demersal fishing (both static and mobile) appeared significant in explaining large spatial scale species assembly structures. Conversely, temperature and variance in temperature shaped the species community across smaller spatial scales. Mobile scavenger species were found in areas impacted by demersal fishing. Oil and gas structures seemed to provide a habitat for a range of species including the commercially important fishes Molva sp. and Sebastes sp. These results demonstrate how the benthic ecosystem in the FSC has been shaped by multiple human activities, at both small and large spatial scales. Only by sampling datasets covering several sites, like in this study, can the effects of anthropogenic activities be separated from natural environmental controls.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsz185
ISSN: 1054-3139
Date made live: 25 Nov 2019 15:44 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/526039

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