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Title: Gradients in benthic community structure and bioturbation potential along the Nordic Seas continental margin
Author: Shields, Mark Aiden
ISNI:       0000 0001 3405 8786
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of the Highlands and Islands
Date of Award: 2008
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The Nordic Seas region marks a transitional zone between the temperate North Atlantic Ocean and the polar Arctic Ocean. The influence of contrasting fluxes of organic matter on benthic community structure and function within the deep waters of the region were investigated. Samples of the macrofaunal community were collated throughout the region employing a standardised method. In the summer of 2002, during the RRS James Clark Ross 75 cruise, replicated samples were obtained with the SMBA multiple corer and the USNEL boxcorer from four stations located at similar sampling depths along a latitudinal transect at the Norwegian Sea continental margin. Additional replicated samples were obtained with a megacorer at six stations located along two bathymetric transects across the Norwegian Sea continental margin in the summer of 2005 during the RRS James Clark Ross 127 cruise. Contrasting fluxes of organic matter influenced benthic community structure, functional ecology and bioturbation potential. Species known to adopt the feeding strategy of the sub-surface storage of organic matter occurred in areas characterised by a seasonal input of organic matter. Species richness and diversity was highest at the Svalbard Margin, located within the marginal ice zone. Bathymetric patterns of macrofaunal biomass were comparable with previously reported global patterns. However, bathymetric patterns of macrofaunal abundance were higher than global patterns. The previously reported rapid subduction of organic matter by the sipunculan Nephasoma sp. and associated deep burrow networks on the Voring Plateau was linked to the species Nephasoma lilljeborgi. It is proposed that N. lilljeborgi is an ecosystem engineer.
Supervisor: Hughes, David ; Black, Kenny Sponsor: NERC ; UHI Studentship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Nordic Seas ; macrofauna ; benthic ; community structure ; organic matter