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Title: Uses of benthic ecology in the assessment of anthropogenic impacts in the marine environment
Author: Whomersley, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 2685 1639
Awarding Body: Edinburgh Napier University
Current Institution: Edinburgh Napier University
Date of Award: 2009
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The ability to detect and manage anthropogenic disturbances in the marine environment is more important than ever, given increasing pressure from a range of sources and the growing awareness of the sensitivity of some marine habitats. The main aims of this study were to ascertain if intensity and type of disturbance were important factors to consider during the assessment of these disturbances. Throughout, various techniques were used and assessed, e.g. primary, derived, multivariate and biological indices, as tools capable of indicating changes within benthic communities. A methodology of selecting appropriate indices linked to the perturbation of interest was also trialled. Finally, the behaviour of meiofauna and macrofauna towards in situ burial was investigated. The effects of disturbance were found to be type, as well as, site-dependent. In some cases, the intensity of disturbance was found to have non-linear effects. Site and disturbance-specific species and trophic group responses were also observed. The method used to select appropriate indices raised important questions. How can it be ensured that observed changes in indicator values are part of a cause-effect relationship? And, how do we identify / choose which of the potential impacts of the disturbance in question to use as a pressure indicator? Community-specific responses and sensitivities of meiofauna and macrofauna to the physical disturbance associated with in-situ burial highlight the importance of using both faunal types in the assessment of the effects of seabed disturbance in the marine environment. It is clear that no simple method exists for detecting disturbance which is applicable to all sites and situations. Hence, careful consideration, informed by ecological knowledge of sites and species, needs to be given to each case.
Supervisor: Huxham, Mark Sponsor: Cefas
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QH301 Biology