Epibenthic assemblages in the Celtic Sea and associated with the Jones Bank

J. R. Ellis*, I. Martinez, G. J. Burt, B. E. Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The epibenthic assemblages in the Celtic Sea are described from the catches from 2 m beam trawl surveys undertaken from 2000 to 2009. During this period 154 samples were collected. The most ubiquitous species in the study area were the natantid shrimps Processa spp. and Crangon allmanni, the hermit crabs Pagurus prideaux and Anapagurus laevis, sand star Astropecten irregularis and spotted dragonet Callionymus maculatus. Multivariate community analyses indicated that catches (numbers per tow) were distributed across six assemblages, two of which were predominant in the study area. Most catches were attributed to either a 'shelf edge assemblage', which was widespread in deeper waters (114-423 m water depth) or an 'outer shelf assemblage' that occurred across much of the Celtic Sea north of 49 degrees N in waters 49-175 m deep. The dominant species along the edge of the continental shelf were the hormathid anemome Actinauge richardi, sea spider Pycnogonum littorale (which associated with A. richardi), Devonshire cup coral Caiyophyllia smithii and the swimming crab Macropipus tuberculatus. The dominant species in the outer shelf assemblage included P. prideaux, C allmanni, A. laevis and common starfish Asterias rubens. Stations closer to shore were relatively distinct and catches in this 'inner shelf assemblage' were composed primarily of an inshore fauna (e.g. Ophiura ophiura, C allmanni and Liocarcinus holsatus). Stations in the southern part of the survey grid were also relatively distinct ('southern Celtic Sea assemblage'), and several large echinoderms (Porania pulvillus, Stichastrella rosea and Anseropoda placenta) dominated at these sites. Three of the deepest stations were also relatively distinct, as were a group of stations in the muddy habitat of the Celtic Deep and comparable grounds elsewhere in the region, where Nucula sulcata and Alpheus glaber were characteristic. Catches on the shallower parts of the Jones Bank (and on another bank in the region) were dominated by the anemone Paraphellia expansa, with off-bank sites comprising a greater number of species. In contrast to beam trawl sampling, baited camera observations on the Jones Bank showed a greater richness of species on the shallower part of the bank, and provided information on the nocturnal feeding behaviour of scavenging isopods. Crown Copyright (C) 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-88
Number of pages13
JournalProgress in Oceanography
Early online date25 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Area NE Atlantic
  • continental-slope
  • North-Sea
  • population-dynamics
  • sandbank habitats
  • English-Channel
  • Bristol Channel
  • diversity
  • sediment
  • demersal


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