Abundance and growth of the sea urchinEchinocardium cordatum in the central North Sea in the late 80s and 90s
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Abundance and growth ofEchinocardium cordatum at 28 stations on the Dogger Bank were analysed in May 1996–1998 and compared to data from 1985–1988 in order (i) to investigate the large-scale spatial variability of abundance and size ofE. cordatum in the late 80s and 90s, (ii) to relate abundance and growth ofE. cordatum to the quantity and quality of its food and (iii) to compare differences in results from the 80s and the 90s in relation to food supply and environmental changes due to hydroclimate change.
In addition, phytopigment contents in the guts of sea urchins were analysed in May 1999 and compared to those in the surrounding sediments along a transect from the German Bight towards the Dogger Bank to detect differences in food supply.
Differences in growth and size of the sea urchins were found to be positively correlated with total organic carbon (TOC) contents in the sediment fine fraction (<63 µm), but negatively correlated with the sediment fine fraction as well as with TOC content and C/N ratio of the total sediments. Abundances of adultE. cordatum were positively correlated with the fine fraction and sediment bulk parameters. Phytopigment analyses showed no significant differences of chlorophylla contents in the guts between the different sites, but differences in quality of the ingested material were detected. That indicates that abundance ofE. cordatum was related to food quantity, whereas growth was dependent on food quality.
With regard to the long-term comparison, the decrease in abundance ofE. cordatum in the eastern shallow part of the Dogger Bank corresponded to the increased hydrodynamics which resulted in reduced food supply for surface deposit feeders such asE. cordatum.
Keywords:Echinocardium cordatum sea urchin growth TOC chlorophylla food availability Dogger Bank North Sea
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