Helgoland Roads, North Sea: 45 Years of Change


The Helgoland Roads time series is one of the richest temporal marine data sets available. Running since 1962, it documents changes for phytoplankton, salinity, Secchi disc depths and macronutrients. Uniquely, the data have been carefully quality controlled and linked to relevant meta-data, and the pelagic time series is further augmented by zooplankton, intertidal macroalgae, macro-zoobenthos and bacterioplankton data. Data analyses have shown changes in hydrography and biota around Helgoland. In the late 1970s, water inflows from the south-west to the German Bight increased with a corresponding increase in flushing rates. Salinity and annual mean temperature have also increased since 1962 and the latter by an average of 1.67°C. This has influenced seasonal phytoplankton growth causing significant shifts in diatom densities and the numbers of large diatoms (e. g. Coscinodiscus wailesii). Changes in zooplankton diversity have included the appearance of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi. The macroalgal community also showed an increase in green algal and a decrease in brown algal species after 1959. Over 30 benthic macrofaunal species have been newly recorded at Helgoland over the last 20 years, with a distinct shift towards southern species. These detailed data provide the basis for long-term analyses of changes on many trophic levels at Helgoland Roads.
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