THE BENTHIC ECOLOGY OF MARINE AGGREGATE DEPOSITS
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Macrobenthic assemblages and sedimentary conditions of five areas were described and compared; the role of abiotic factors in shaping benthic distributions was also examined. Two of the study sites were actively dredged at the time of sample collection and the effects of this aggregate extraction were investigated. It was concluded that trailer dredging (at the level intensity employed at these sites) was not associated with any significant disruption to benthic community structure, despite the differences in abiotic and biotic characteristics of the two dredged areas. A meta-analysis of findings from published dredging impact studies revealed a differential response to dredging that was related to habitat type. Full recovery of the benthos following the cessation of dredging was not observed in any of the habitat types suggesting that dredging is associated with a long-term alteration of macrobenthic resources.
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