Senckenberg am Meer Wilhelmshaven

Marine Biology
Long-term comparison of macrofaunal communities at the Dogger Bank

We study the variability of structure and function of macrofaunal communities at the Dogger Bank in the central North Sea on decadal scale.
The comparison between data from the 1950s (Danish data) and the 1980s (own data) provided information that during this interval big long-living species such as bivalves descreased dramatically but small opportunistic (r-selective) species increased in abundance. These changes seemed to be caused by increasing eutrophication of the central North Sea as well as by pollution and fisheries impact.
Our comparison between data from the 1980s and 1990s revealed that the spatial distribution of the macrofaunal communities remained stable. But within the species composition we found an increase in southern warm temperate species and a decrease in northern cold temperate species. Additionally, species, which prefer coarser sediments, increased in abundance. Changes in the species composition and sediments structure are caused by an increase in temperature and change in the current regime in the central North Sea. The variability in North Sea hydroclimate is directly related to changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation.
The analysis of the samples taken in May 2006/07 is in progress.

SNG-Participants: E. Markert, S. Preuss, G. Wieking, I. Kröncke

Project partners

M. Türkay, SNG Frankfurt (epifauna)
Sampling campagne 2006: S. Ehrich, Bundesforschungsanstalt für Fischerei, Hamburg

Funding and duration

SNG, decadal scale


Reiss, H., Wieking, G., Kröncke, I. (2006): Benthic microflora of the Dogger Bank. Mar. Biol. 150: 1061-1071.

Wieking, G., Kröncke, I. (2005): Is benthic trophic structure affected by food quality? The Dogger Bank example. Marine Biology, 146: 387-400.

Türkay, M., Kröncke, I. (2004): Eine Insel unter Wasser: die Doggerbank. Natur und Mus., 134(9): 261-277.

Hagberg, J., Tunberg, B.G., Wieking, G., Kröncke I., Belgrano, A. (2004): Effects of climate on benthic communities. In: Stenseth, N., Ottersen, G., Hurrell, J.W., Belgrano, A. (eds): Marine ecosystems and climate variation. Oxford Univ. Press, 266pp.

Wieking, G., Kröncke, I. (2003): Benthic communities of the Dogger Bank (central North Sea) in the late 90s: Spatial distribution, species composition and trophic structure. Helgoland Marine Research, 57: 34-46.

Wieking, G., Kröncke, I. (2003): Abundance and growth of the sea urchin Echinocardium cordatum in the central North Sea in the late 80s and 90s. Senckenbergiana maritima, 32: 113-124.

Kröncke, I. & Wieking, G. (2003): Klimatisch bedingte Veränderungen im Benthos der Nordsee. In: Lozan, J. et al. (Hrsg.): Warnsignale aus der Nordsee: 172-175pp., Hamburg, Wiss. Auswertungen.   

Wieking, G. & Kröncke, I. (2001): Decadal changes in macrofauna communities on the Dogger Bank caused by large-scale climate variability. In: Kröncke, I. & Türkay, M. & Sündermann, J. (eds): Burning issues of North Sea ecology, Proceedings of the 14th international Senckenberg Conference “North Sea 2000”, Senckenbergiana marit. 31(2): 125-141.

Kröncke, I. (1992): Macrofauna standing stock of the Dogger Bank. A comparison: III. 1950-54 versus 1985-87. A final summary. Helgoländer Meeresunters. 46: 137-169.

Kröncke, I. (1990): Macrofauna standing stock of the Dogger Bank. A comparison: II. 1951-52 versus 1985-87. Are changes in the community of the northeastern part of the Dogger Bank due to environmental changes? Neth. J. Sea Res.  25(1/2): 189-198.

Kröncke, I. (1987): Lead and cadmium concentrations in selected macrofauna species from the Dogger Bank and the eastern North Sea. Helgoländer Meeresunters. 41: 465-475.