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Species distribution

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  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA5) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). A review of the distribution and abundance of divers, grebes and seaduck in the SEA 5 area was carried out by Cork Ecology at the request of the Department of Trade and Industry as part of the production of the SEA 5 Consultation Document. The study area was defined as the east coast of Scotland from the English border north to John O'Groats, including Orkney and Shetland, and the offshore waters in the SEA 5 area. This review considered thirteen species: red-throated diver, black-throated diver, great northern diver, great crested grebe, red-necked grebe, slavonian grebe, scaup, eider, long-tailed duck, common scoter, velvet scoter, goldeneye and red-breasted merganser.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA7) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change).The class Cephalopoda comprises three major divisions, of which two: Decapoda (squids and cuttlefish) and Octopoda (octopods) are represented in the SEA 7 Area. They are highly developed, but short-lived molluscs with rapid growth rates. They are important elements in marine food webs and interact significantly with marine mammals, seabirds and commercially exploited finfish species. They also represent a promising future fishery resource in terms of market value, abundance and growth potential. At present, only an estimated 10% of exploitable stocks are utilised worldwide. There are six marketable squid species that occur in the SEA 7 Area. These belong to the long-fin (loliginid) and short-fin (Ommastrephid) squids the two most important exploited families of decpods. In the SEA 7 Area, only one species, Loligo forbesi is commercially exploited on a regular basis, although there are significant landings of other species on occasion. The closely related Loligo vulgaris sometimes appears in catches and the small Alloteuthis subulata is thought to be naturally abundant and an important food item in the marine ecosystem. There are other important species represented in the SEA 7 Area. These include cuttlefish, octopods, sepiolids and a number of deep-water species. Most of these are marketable and may be ecologically important. Large fisheries for some of these species, particularly octopods and cuttlefish operate in European waters further south, but they are not currently exploited in the SEA 7 Area.

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    This dataset consists of silicon isotope data from deep-sea sediment cores taken off southeast Iceland. Samples of sea sponges were collected using piston cores and sediment cores aboard the RV Celtic Explorer in 2008 and dried or frozen for transportation. Organic matter was removed and samples were preserved for later analysis. Sample analysis occurred in 2012 as part of a comprehensive study of the carbon cycle. The data collected form the field component of the NERC-funded project "Unravelling the carbon cycle using silicon isotopes in the oceans". The project aimed to investigate deep sea sponges and the silicon they produce, in an effort to piece together the links between the supply of vital nutrients in different parts of the ocean and the crucial role other marine organisms play in absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in deep sea sediments as organic carbon. The Discovery Science project was composed of New Investigators (FEC) Grant reference NE/J00474X/1 led by Dr. Katherine Rosemary Hendry of Cardiff University, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences. The project ran from 26 January 2012 to 30 September 2013. The silicon isotope data have been received by BODC as raw files, and will be processed and quality controlled using in-house BODC procedures and made available online in the near future. The raw files are available on request.

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    This dataset consists of coccolithophore abundances in the North Atlantic that were collected from 37 CTD casts during three RRS Discovery cruises (D350, D351, D354) in the spring and summer of 2010. Water samples (0.2-1 L) were collected from CTD casts and filtered through cellulose nitrate (0.8 µm) and polycarbonate (0.45 µm or 0.8 µm) filters, rinsed with trace ammonium solution, oven dried (30-40 °C, 6-12 h) and stored in Millipore PetriSlides. The filters were examined using a Leo 1450VP scanning electron microscope, with coccolithophores identified following Young et al. (2003), and enumerated from 225 fields of view (Daniels et al., 2012). The detection limit was estimated to be 0.2-1.1 cells mL-1. The samples were collected to investigate coccolithophore community dynamics in the North Atlantic as part of the Irminger Basin Iron Study (IBIS)(D350, D354), Extended Ellett Line (EEL)(D351) and a NERC Fellowship. Samples were collected on D350 by Martine Couapel, on D351 by Stuart Painter and on D354 by Alex Poulton and Mike Lucas. In the lab, samples were prepared and processed by Chris Daniels, Elena Maher and Jonathan Hurst, and were analysed for coccolithophore abundances by Chris Daniels and Jeremy Mirza. The data are held at the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC). Daniels, C. J., Tyrrell, T., Poulton, A. J., and Pettit, L.: The influence of lithogenic material on particulate inorganic carbon measurements of coccolithophores in the Bay of Biscay, Limnol. Oceanogr., 57, 145-153, doi:10.4319/lo.2012.57.1.0145, 2012. Young, J. R., Geisen, M., Cros, L., Kleijne, A., Sprengel, C., Probert, I., and Ostergaard, J.: A guide to extant coccolithophore taxonomy, J. Nannoplankt. Res. Special Issue, 1, 1-132, 2003.

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    GreenSeas was an EU FP7 programme funded to advance the quantitative knowledge of how planktonic marine ecosystems, including phytoplankton, bacterioplankton and zooplankton, will respond to environmental and climate changes. To achieve this GreenSeas employed a combination of observation data, numerical simulations and a cross-disciplinary synthesis to develop a high quality, harmonized and standardized plankton and plankton ecology long time-series, data inventory and information service. This contribution to the programme developed a number of indices to characterize quantitatively the seasonality of phytoplankton (Platt and Sathyendranath, 2008, Racault et al., 2014a). Specifically, indices that relate to the study of timing of periodic biological events as influenced by the environment are referred to as phytoplankton phenology. These indices include: timings of initiation, peak, and termination as well as the duration of the phytoplankton growing period. Changes in phytoplankton phenology (triggered by variations in climate) can profoundly alter: (1) the efficiency of the biological pump, with inevitable impact of the global carbon cycle; and (2) the interactions across trophic levels, which can engender trophic mismatch with major impacts on the survival of commercially important fish and crustacean larvae. Phenology indices were estimated using the R2010.0 reprocessing of Level 3 Mapped chlorophyll-a concentration from the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view (SeaWiFS) sensor. The chlorophyll-a data were retrieved from NASA Ocean Color Web http://oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov for the period 1997-2008 at 9 km spatial resolution and 8-day temporal resolution. Linear interpolation was applied to map the chlorophyll-a concentration onto a 1degreex1degree fixed grid. The phenology indices were estimated following the method described in Racault et al. (2012). Missing chlorophyll-a data were reduced from the time-series prior to estimating the timing of ecological events. Missing values were filled by interpolating spatially adjacent values (average of 3 × 3 pixels on the 9km grid), when these were available. Any remaining missing values were filled by interpolating temporally adjacent values (average of previous and following 8-day composites), when these were available. Otherwise the value was not filled. A 3-week running mean was applied to remove small peaks in chlorophyll-a. The timings of initiation and end of the phytoplankton growing period were detected as the weeks when the chlorophyll concentration in a particular year rose above the long-term median value plus 5% and later fell below this same threshold (Racault et al., 2012). The duration of the growing season is defined as the number of weeks between initiation and end.

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    Macrofauna and polychaete species abundance data were obtained from replicate megacore samples collected from inside the Whittard Canyon (N.E. Atlantic) and the adjacent slope to the west of the canyon during cruise JC036 in June and July 2009. Four sites were sampled, three in the Whittard Canyon branches (Western, Central and Eastern) and one site on the slope to the west of the canyon. Five deployments were conducted in the Western branch, six in the Central and Eastern branches and five at the slope site. One extra deployment was made in the Central and Eastern branches to compensate for the failure to recover sufficient cores. All sites were located at 3500 m depth. Samples were collected using a Megacorer fitted with eight large (100 mm internal diameter) core tubes. Core slices from the same sediment layer from one deployment were pooled to make one replicate sample. The number of cores pooled per deployment ranged from 3 to 7 and the area of seabed sampled varied accordingly. The top three sediment horizons (i.e. 0–1, 1–3 and 3–5 cm), were analysed in toto. Macrofauna were identified to higher taxa levels, and polychaetes to species level and counts of species/taxa recorded for each site. AphiaIDs have been assigned to the samples - where identification was only possible to genus or family level, the aphiaIDs for genus and family have been supplied. The supplied aphaIDs are those that were acceptable at the time of the analysis and not their more recent superseding terms. This cruise was part of the HERMIONE project and the data formed the basis of L. Gunton's PhD thesis 'Deep-Sea Macrofaunal Biodiversity of the Whittard Canyon (NE Atlantic)'.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA7) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). The aims of this study were: To provide an overview of individual bird species offshore distribution in SEA 7; To identify, where possible, offshore areas in SEA 7 that are important for seabirds; To assess offshore seabird vulnerability to surface pollution in SEA 7; To provide a brief outline on the potential for offshore SPAs in the offshore waters of SEA 7; To highlight major gaps in understanding and survey coverage in the offshore waters of SEA 7. Generally seabird densities were low in offshore waters. Important areas were along the shelf break, Rockall Trough and Rockall Bank. Species diversity of seabirds was low in offshore waters compared to inshore waters, although more species were recorded during the summer months. Offshore waters were defined as greater than 200 m in depth and the offshore distribution of seventeen species of seabirds were reviewed.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA5) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). A review of the coastal distribution and abundance of swans and geese in the SEA 5 area, including migration routes, key feeding areas and roosting areas was carried out. A review of the potential impacts of offshore wind farms on swans and geese was also conducted. The study area was defined as the east coast of Scotland from the English border north to John O' Groats, including Orkney and Shetland, and the offshore waters in the SEA 5 area. The review considered nine species: mute swan, Bewick's swan, whooper swan, bean goose, pinkfooted goose, white-fronted goose, greylag goose, barnacle goose and brent goose. Offshore wind farms may impact birds directly by mortality from collisions or indirectly by displacement from migratory flyways or local flight paths. At present there are very little data on the effects of offshore wind farms on swans and geese. Of the nine species reviewed, five species, whooper swan, mute swan, pink-footed goose, greylag goose and barnacle goose occur in internationally important numbers at coastal sites in the SEA5 area. Greenland white-fronted goose occur in nationally important numbers.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA2) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). SEA2 focuses on the mature areas of the North Sea UK continental shelf which is divided into 3 areas - Northern, Central and Southern North Sea. This paper provides an overview of cephalopods - squid, octopus, cuttlefish in the SEA2 area. Cephalopods are short-lived, carnivorous animals that have rapid growth rates and play an important part in oceanic and coastal food webs. They are preyed on by cetaceans, fish and seabirds, and are predators themselves, feeding on fish, crustaceans, molluscs and cephalopods. Knowledge of cephalopod distribution in Scottish waters is mainly based on information from commercial whitefish vessels that catch squid as a by-catch. The loliginid squid Loligo forbesi is the predominant species. English cephalopod landings are dominated by cuttlefish caught in the English Channel outside the area of interest. The benthic octopod Eledone cirrhosa, though a highly valued species in southern Europe, is usually discarded by fishermen in Scottish waters. Fishery management statistics indicate that the areas of highest abundance of Loligo forbesi and of Eledone cirrhosa lie outside the SEA2 area. Cephalopods naturally accumulate high levels of trace metals. The potential of drilling operations to introduce trace metals into the sea is discussed. It is concluded that the overall impact on cephalopods and cephalopod fisheries in the SEA2 area by further oilfield development would be slight.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA7) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) and deals with the shellfish resources and their commercial fisheries within SEA7. Exploited species of shellfish are found in the SEA7 zone occupying all types of habitat and distributed over a considerable range of depths, from the littoral zone down to 1000m. These species provide important fisheries and make vital contributions to the economy of remote communities on the west coast of Scotland. The main species reviewed in this report are: Norway lobster; European Lobster; Crawfish; Edible crab; Velvet swimming crab; Shore crab; Red crabs; Giant scallop; Queen scallop; Cockle; Common mussel; Razor shells; Whelks; Periwinkle