Detecting adverse effect on seabed integrity. Part 1: Generic sensitivity indices to measure the effect of trawling on benthic mega-epifauna

Type Article
Date 2020-10
Language English
Author(s) Jac CyrielleORCID1, Desroy NicolasORCID2, Certain Gregoire1, Foveau AurelieORCID2, Labrune Céline3, Vaz SandrineORCID1
Affiliation(s) 1 : MARBEC, Univ Montpellier, Ifremer, IRD, CNRS, Sète, France
2 : Ifremer, Laboratoire Environnement et Ressources Bretagne Nord, 38 Rue du Port Blanc, 35800 Dinard, France
3 : Sorbonne Université, CNRS, Laboratoire d’Ecogéochimie des Environnements Benthiques, LECOB UMR 8222, F-66650 Banyuls-sur-Mer, France
Source Ecological Indicators (1470-160X) (Elsevier BV), 2020-10 , Vol. 117 , P. 106631 (14p.)
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2020.106631
WOS© Times Cited 8
Keyword(s) Benthic sensitivity, Trawling effect, Indices, Seabed integrity, MSFD

The benthic fauna of European continental shelves is a severely impacted community, mostly due to intense bottom trawling activity. Trawling effect may be dependent on the spatial and temporal distribution of abrasion, the habitat type including natural perturbation intensity and the fishing gear used. Nonetheless, there is an urgent need to identify or develop indices likely to measure the effect of trawling. For this purpose benthic fauna by-catch monitored in scientific trawl surveys carried out in all European waters in the frame of the Common Fishery Policy Data Collection Multiannual Program may be used. Benthic invertebrates data used in this study were collected during scientific bottom trawl surveys covering the English Channel, the North Sea and the North-West Mediterranean. Swept area ratios derived from VMS data were used to quantify the intensity of fishery induced abrasion on the seabed. Fifteen indices were investigated: taxonomic diversity metrics, functional diversity indices and functional indices, the two later based on sensitivity traits to physical abrasion. Their properties, such as their capacity to detect trawling effect, their statistical behavior or their ability to inform on community structure, were investigated. Among them, fours indices specific to fishery effect detection based on biological traits appeared to be the best performing benthic indices regarding these requirements: Trawling Disturbance Index (TDI), modified-Trawling Disturbance Index (mTDI), partial-Trawling Disturbance Index (pTDI), modified sensitivity index (mT). Maps of the distribution pattern of seabed sensitivity captured through each of these four indices were produced. This work has highlighted the need to use specific indices to monitor the effect of trawling on benthic communities but also that the use of different indices may be necessary to carry out this monitoring in all European waters.


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Jac Cyrielle, Desroy Nicolas, Certain Gregoire, Foveau Aurelie, Labrune Céline, Vaz Sandrine (2020). Detecting adverse effect on seabed integrity. Part 1: Generic sensitivity indices to measure the effect of trawling on benthic mega-epifauna. Ecological Indicators, 117, 106631 (14p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :