This study aims at to give an overview of the macrozoobenthos of the Mecklenburg Bight , (Western Baltic Sea) with emphasis on water depths between 5 and 29.5 meters. The data result from several research cruises in 1999. Such an extensive investigation of macrozoobenthos within one year was performed for the first time. The study is focused on biology and recent distribution of the macrozoobenthos. Therefore, population dynamics of species and their variability in time and space are only included for some dominant species in order to follow their long term development. Particularly for long living bivalves (Arctica islandica and Astarte borealis) morphological and population characteristics were recorded. In addition, some other dominant species such as, the polychaete worm Scoloplos armiger and the crustacean Diastylis rathkei are discussed in more detail. Moreover, a list of the taxa is presented using all data on macrozoobenthos available for the inner and outer coastal waters of the Mecklenburg Bight since 1995. In total, 240 taxa were observed in this area. The greatest number of species (about 140) were found ih the depth zone between 15 and 20 m. The highest abundance and biomass was detected in the more shallow waters between 5 and 10 m. Several species (29 taxa) occurred only in the inner coastal waters ( e.g. Salzhaff, Potenitzer Wiek, Breitling) or in the shallow parts of the shore line (< 1 m). Both habitats are characterised by occurrence of boulders, stones, phytal or groyne piles. The data obtained in 1999 were compared with historical data from the literature (started with the beginning of research on macrozoobenthos in the Baltic in the 1870ies) cover the last 130 years. This comparison showed that the abundance and distribution of several species (e.g. the polychaete worms Pygospio elegans and Nephtys hombergii) increased during the last decades. 23 species became extinct or disappeared during this period of time. When taking into account all the historical and recent data about 263 taxa were described for the Mecklenburg Bight.
Historical benthic data from the southern Baltic Sea (1839-2001), more