Spatially dependent relationships between environmental factors and phytobenthic communities along the Swedish coast of the Baltic Sea, a numeric model approach
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
The phytobenthic plant and animal communities are important components in the Baltic Sea ecosystem. In order to properly manage and monitor these communities the knowledge of structuring factors is important. In this study we used multivariate analyses to test the relative importance of environmental variables structuring the phytobenthic communities along the Swedish Baltic Sea coast, how the importance of these factors change with spatial scale and between the three main Baltic Sea sub-basins, the Baltic proper, Bothnian Sea and Bothnian Bay. We also studied the effect of these environmental factors for different species groups. The environmental factors included were salinity, wave exposure, substrate slope, depth and substrate type. For the analysis a large dataset of 1362 diving transects performed with comparable methods was used, describing the phytobenthic plant and animal species depth distribution and coverage. The environmental factors changed in importance at the different scales. The community-environment relationships also differed between the sub-basins, especially in the Bothnian Bay compared to the Baltic proper and Bothnian Sea. In the calculated best combination of factors correlating with the phytobenthic community the depth and the substrate were included in a majority of the analyses, both at different scales and in the different sub-basins. Differences in the correlation between the phytobenthic community and the environmental factors were also found between species groups. The differences between the spatial scales, the sub-basins and the species groups indicate that the criteria for environmental status, and stratification of sampling during local monitoring assessments, have to be area specific.
Research subject Marine Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-54355OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-54355DiVA: diva2:393438