Global analysis of depletion and recovery of seabed biota after bottom trawling disturbance

Last modified: 
December 16, 2019 - 12:34pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 07/2017
Authors: Jan Hiddink, Simon Jennings, Marija Sciberras, Claire Szostek, Kathryn Hughes, Nick Ellis, Adriaan Rijnsdorp, Robert McConnaughey, Tessa Mazor, Ray Hilborn, Jeremy Collie, Roland Pitcher, Ricardo Amoroso, Ana Parma, Petri Suuronen, Michel Kaiser
Journal title: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Pages: 201618858
ISSN: 0027-8424

Bottom trawling is the most widespread human activity affecting seabed habitats. Here, we collate all available data for experimental and comparative studies of trawling impacts on whole communities of seabed macroinvertebrates on sedimentary habitats and develop widely applicable methods to estimate depletion and recovery rates of biota after trawling. Depletion of biota and trawl penetration into the seabed are highly correlated. Otter trawls caused the least depletion, removing 6% of biota per pass and penetrating the seabed on average down to 2.4 cm, whereas hydraulic dredges caused the most depletion, removing 41% of biota and penetrating the seabed on average 16.1 cm. Median recovery times posttrawling (from 50 to 95% of unimpacted biomass) ranged between 1.9 and 6.4 y. By accounting for the effects of penetration depth, environmental variation, and uncertainty, the models explained much of the variability of depletion and recovery estimates from single studies. Coupled with large-scale, high-resolution maps of trawling frequency and habitat, our estimates of depletion and recovery rates enable the assessment of trawling impacts on unprecedented spatial scales.

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