Size-based analyses of marine animals are increasingly used to improve understanding of community structure and function. However, the resources required to record individual body weights for benthic animals, where the number of individuals can reach several thousand in a square metre, are often prohibitive. Here we present morphometric (length–weight) relationships for 216 benthic species from the North Sea to permit weight estimation from length measurements. These relationships were calculated using data collected over two years from 283 stations. For ten abundant and widely dispersed species we tested for significant spatial and temporal differences in morphometric relationships. Some were found, but the magnitude of differences was small in relation to the size-ranges of animals that are usually present and we recommend that the regression relationships given here, based on pooled data, are appropriate for most types of population and community analyses. Our hope is that the availability of these morphometric relationships will encourage the more frequent application of size-based analyses to benthic survey data, and so enhance understanding of the ecology of the benthic/demersal component of marine ecosystems and food webs.
(Received February 25 2009)
(Accepted September 21 2009)
(Online publication January 14 2010)