Macrobenthic succession following the cessation of sewage sludge disposal.

  • Published source details Birchenough S.N.R. & Frid C.L. (2009) Macrobenthic succession following the cessation of sewage sludge disposal.. Journal of Sea Research, 62, 258-267.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Limit, cease or prohibit the dumping of sewage sludge

Action Link
Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation
  1. Limit, cease or prohibit the dumping of sewage sludge

    A replicated, site comparison study in 1999–2001 in one soft seabed area along the Northumberland coast, North Sea, UK (Birchenough et al. 2009) found that ceasing the disposal of sewage sludge led to changes in invertebrate community composition and decreases in overall invertebrate abundance over time. Community composition at the sewage sites changed over the three years after disposal stopped but remained different to that of the natural sites (data presented as graphical analyses and statistical model results). After one year, invertebrate abundance had decreased at the sewage sites (169–194 individuals/0.1 m2) compared to three months after sewage dumping stopped (245–405), and was similar to that of natural sites (180–188). In December 1998, disposal of sewage sludge ceased at a site 10–13 km off the coast. Between 1999 and 2001 samples were collected annually in March, August, and December (except March 2000). Five samples were collected using sediment grabs (0.1 m2) at each of four sites: two located at the sewage site, and two natural sites located 9–10 km away. Invertebrates (>0.5 mm) were identified and counted.

    (Summarised by: Anaëlle Lemasson)

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