Resolution of biodiversity and assemblage structure in demersal fisheries surveys: the role of tow duration
An experiment during a fisheries independent survey in the North Sea was conducted to test whether sampling effort could be reduced without a significant loss in data precision. To examine potential effects of reducing tow duration from the standard 30 min to a proposed 15 min estimates of species encounter rates, species richness, and estimates of abundance, biomass, and body size were analysed. Results show species richness estimates are lower in the short tow category. While biomass and abundance at length and body size are significantly affected by the change in tow duration, estimates of Large Fish Indicator, the Typical length and Mean-max length are not significantly affected by the regime change. The results presented here suggest that a reduction of tow duration did not optimize the resolution of biodiversity, and it may affect other survey objectives, such as, providing estimates of abundance or biomass for assessment of commercial species.