Aquat. Living Resour.
Volume 33, 2020
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Published online||21 October 2020|
The impacts of hydraulic clamming in shallow water and the importance of incorporating anthropogenic disturbances into habitat assessments
Center for Coastal Studies, 5 Holway Avenue, Provincetown, MA 02657, USA
2 Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 160 Holdsworth Way, Amherst, MA 01002, USA
3 Coastal Processes and Ecosystems Laboratory, University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Avenue, Boston, MA 02125, USA
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Handling Editor: Ellen Kenchington
Accepted: 29 September 2020
Hydraulic dredging for shellfish is known to create some of the highest levels of disturbance, affecting the benthic microfaunal community and the physical characteristics of the substrate. Properly conducted benthic habitat assessments are complex and time consuming, resulting in assessments not being conducted increasing the uncertainty in post impact studies. Hydraulic dredging for Atlantic surfclams (Spisula soldidissima) took place at Herring Cove, Massachusetts in the winter of 2014–2015 resulting in areas of high impact disturbance of the seafloor. Surveys conducted in the summer of 2015 included hydroacoustics, benthic invertebrate sampling, video, and grain size analysis for the creation of a habitat map of Herring Cove. The four habitats (A–D) identified were a mix of sand, shell, cobble, algae, and eelgrass. Habitat type “D” is a mix of sand, algae and cobble material and occurred at 12 of 18 stations. These 12 stations were distributed across areas of “high” (n = 4), “low” (n = 2), and “no” (n = 6) hydraulic dredge disturbance. Once habitat was accounted for, benthic invertebrate community structure varied significantly (Analysis of similarity; significance level of sample statistic: 0.3%) between areas of “high”, “low” to “no” disturbance. Areas of “low” to “no” dredge track coverage contained high abundances of bivalves, echinoderms, and isopods, whereas highly disturbed areas had highest abundances of polychaetes and oligochaetes. Future mapping efforts, especially surveys with biological components, need to include and quantify the level, type and spatial distribution of anthropogenic alterations. More attention should be given to “reference maps” instead of “baseline maps”. The latter of which omits to acknowledge pre-existing anthropogenic disturbances and has the potential to skew monitoring of restoration and management efforts.
Key words: Sidescan sonar / benthic communities / habitat / anthropogenic / hydraulic clamming / dredge / disturbance
© EDP Sciences 2020
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