Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

The macrobenthic infauna off Sellafield (north-eastern irish sea) with special reference to bioturbation

D. J. Swifta1

a1 Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Directorate of Fisheries Research, Fisheries Laboratory, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0HT


Between 1983 and 1989,66 stations in the north-eastern Irish Sea offshore from Sellafield, Cumbria, were sampled by Reineck box corer to assess the abundance and distribution of the benthic macro-infauna. A total of 40 taxa was identified, of which the predominant group was polychaetes. Cluster analysis of the abundance data showed a division into three station clusters. Simple discriminant analysis showed that the three clusters were correlated (P<0.01) with sand, silty sand and sandy silt sediments. However, the three station groups did not show any clear pattern of characterizing taxa with sediment classification. The bioturbating potential of each taxon is reviewed. A method of weighting abundance data by a factor representing an estimate of individual taxon bioturbating potential is also suggested. This technique is illustrated and discussed by using the weighted data in a further cluster analysis to identify probable areas of high inf aunal bioturbation off Sellafield.