Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 151–162 | Cite as

Sewage, green algal mats anchored by lugworms, and the effects on Turbellaria and small Polychaeta

  • Karsten Reise


On sandy tidal flats at the Island of Sylt (North Sea) ephemeral mats of green algae covered wide areas in the vicinity of sewage outflows. Algae became anchored in the feeding funnels of lugworms (Arenicola marina) and thus were able to resist displacement by tidal currents. Below the algal mats anoxic conditions extend to the sediment surface. After about one month a rough sea removed all algae. Polychaetes endured this short-term environmental deterioration, while the more sensitive Turbellaria decreased in abundance and species richness. Diatom-feeders were affected most, predators to a medium extent, and bacteria-feeders the least affected. Rare and very abundant species were more affected than moderately abundant ones. None of the turbellarian species increased in abundance and none colonized the algal mats above the sediment. In a semicontrolled experiment with daily hand-removal of drift algae from a 100-m2 plot within an extensive field of algal mats, this cleaned "island" served as a refuge to Turbellaria escaping from their algal covered habitat. Here abundance doubled relative to initial conditions and was 5-times higher than below algal mats.


Sewage Green Alga Polychaeta Anoxic Condition Tidal Current 
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Copyright information

© Biologische Anstalt Helgoland 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karsten Reise
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Biologische Anstalt Helgoland (Litoralstation)List/SyltFederal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.II. Zoologisches InstitutUniversität GöttingenGöttingenFederal Republic of Germany

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