The use of time-series data in the assessment of macrobenthic community change after the cessation of sewage sludge disposal in Liverpool Bay (UK)

Paul Whomersley, Michaela Schratzberger, Mark Huxham, Helen Bates, Hubert L. Rees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sewage sludge was disposed of in Liverpool Bay for over 100 years. Annual amounts increased from 0.5 million tonnes per annum in 1900 to approximately 2 million tonnes per annum by 1995. Macrofauna and a suite of environmental variables were collected at a station adjacent to, and a reference station distant from, the disposal site over 13 years, spanning a pre- (1990–1998) and post- (1999–2003) cessation period. Univariate and multivariate analyses of the time-series data showed significant community differences between reference and disposal site stations and multivariate analyses revealed station-specific community development post-disposal. Temporal variability of communities collected at the disposal station post-cessation was higher than during years of disposal, when temporally stable dominance patterns of disturbance-tolerant species had established. Alterations of community structure post-disturbance reflected successional changes possibly driven by facilitation. Subtle faunistic changes at the Liverpool Bay disposal site indicate that the near-field effects of the disposal of sewage sludge were small and therefore could be considered environmentally acceptable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-41
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume54
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes

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