Long-term changes in macrozoobenthic abundance on the tidal flats of the western part of the Dutch Wadden Sea
- Cite this article as:
- Beukema, J.J. Helgolander Meeresunters (1989) 43: 405. doi:10.1007/BF02365900
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For 20 years (1969–1988), larger bottom animals have been sampled quantitatively once or twice annually at 15 stations scattered over Balgzand (a 50 km2 tidal flat area in the westernmost part of the Dutch Wadden Sea). In 29 species, numbers were sufficiently high to allow a statistical evaluation of the fluctuation patterns of their annual densities. The results revealed two main trends: (1) a sensitivity to low winter temperatures in 12 species, causing low densities in these species immediately after a severe winter (1979, 1985, 1986 and 1987) and relatively high densities during a period with some mild winters in succession (1973–1975); (2) an upward long-term trend in 11 (other) species, causing upward trends (viz. roughly a doubling) of total macrozoobenthic biomass and production over the 20-year period of observation, probably as a consequence of increasing eutrophication. By far the major part of the species thus exhibited either of these two patterns, causing total biomass and species number to be governed largely by the above two trends. Results of less frequent sampling (once per 5 or 10 years) of 26 transects scattered over the ≈500 km2 of tidal flats of the whole western half of the Dutch Wadden Sea showed that the two trends also represent the changes occurring in a much larger area. Some local departures from the general patterns are discussed and related to specific causes.