Journal Article

Limited infaunal response to experimental trawling in previously untrawled areas

Sharon L. Drabsch, Jason E. Tanner and Sean D. Connell

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 58, issue 6, pages 1261-1271
Published in print January 2001 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2001 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Limited infaunal response to experimental trawling in previously untrawled areas

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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There is considerable argument about the effects of bottom trawling on the benthos. Many studies have been done on recently trawled grounds, where community composition has already been modified, and further effects are likely to be minimal. This study tests the effect of trawling on macroinfaunal assemblages in an area where little or no trawling had occurred in the previous 15 years. A spatially replicated Before-After, Control-Impact (BACI) design was used, with adjacent trawl and control corridors. Sampling was done in the same two small sites within each corridor before and after trawling to minimise confounding due to spatial variation. Despite this rigorous design, changes consistent with an effect of trawling were not detected. At only one of the three locations was a potential effect detected. These inconsistent results could be due to different disturbance regimes at each location, influencing the vulnerability of fauna to further disturbance. Given the high levels of variability in infaunal assemblages, however, the changes could also be due to asynchronous natural variation. The combination of high spatial and temporal variability, in association with light trawling gear, means that prawn trawling in South Australia does not have consistent effects on infauna.

Keywords: disturbance; effects of trawling; infauna; trawling

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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