Diver-operated suction sampling in Norwegian cobble grounds: technique and associated fauna

In: Crustaceana
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  • 1 Sea Snack Norway, NO-5055 Bergen, Norway
  • 2 Institute of Biology, University of Bergen, NO-5020 Bergen, Norway
  • 3 Institute of Marine Research, Austevoll Research Station, NO-5392 Storebø, Norway

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Marine cobble habitats in shallow waters are rich in faunal assemblages and known settling grounds for valuable fishery resources such as lobsters and crabs. Sampling these grounds is challenging as traditional techniques do not efficiently collect fast-moving benthic invertebrates. Typically, fast moving crustaceans are not sampled according to actual densities. This study used airlift suction sampling, pioneered in North America, to quantify benthic faunal assemblages in cobble grounds across 68 sampling locations in south-western Norway. In total, 72 species of benthic invertebrates (5276 individual specimens) were identified, with an overall sampling efficiency of 76.4%. Polychaeta and decapod crustaceans dominated the samples, with species diversity (Shannon Index, H) highest in Location 3. Cluster and Ordination analyses were further used to relate assemblages to a number of selected variables. Overall, the study highlights that suction sampling provides a low-cost and efficient method for quantifying mobile benthic fauna in structurally complex marine habitats (i.e., cobble).

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