Process-driven and biological characterisation and mapping of seabed habitats sensitive to trawling

Foveau, Aurélie; Vaz, Sandrine; Desroy, Nicolas; Kostylev, Vladimir E.
October 2017
PLoS ONE;10/05/2017, Vol. 12 Issue 10, p1
Academic Journal
The increase of anthropogenic pressures on the marine environment together with the necessity of a sustainable management of marine living resources have underlined the need to map and model coastal environments, particularly for the purposes of spatial planning and for the implementation of integrated ecosystem-based management approach. The present study compares outputs of a process-driven benthic habitat sensitivity (PDS) model to the structure, composition and distribution of benthic invertebrates in the Eastern English Channel and southern part of the North Sea. Trawl disturbance indicators (TDI) computed from species biological traits and benthic community composition were produced from samples collected with a bottom trawl. The TDI was found to be highly correlated to the PDS further validating the latter’s purpose to identify natural process-driven pattern of sensitivity. PDS was found to reflect an environmental potential that may no longer be fully observable in the field and difference with in situ biological observations could be partially explained by the spatial distribution of fishery pressure on the seafloor. The management implication of these findings are discussed and we suggest that, used in conjunction with TDI approaches, PDS may help monitor management effort by evaluating the difference between the current state and the presumed optimal environmental status of marine benthic habitats.


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