Gulf of Gdansk. Foto: Maciej Tomczak
Gulf of Gdańsk. Photo: Maciej Tomczak.

An integrated trend assessment was conducted for the Gulf of Gdańsk (GoG), Baltic Sea for the period 1994–2010 to describe changes and potentially important drivers of the ecosystem. We found changes in the biota, including an increase in open sea taxa (flatfish, sprat and cod), a decrease in typical coastal species such as eelpout and lumpfish and an increase in primary production. The analyses further suggest that changes in the food web were driven by a combination of anthropogenic pressures (e.g., nutrient loadings and fisheries) and possible interactions with climatic disturbance.

Management importance

Our analyses show that significant changes occurred in the GoG ecosystem between 1994 and 2010. The primary drivers and mechanisms of these changes are discussed. We describe this alteration of the GoG within the context of similar temporal patterns identified in adjacent areas.

Maciej Tomczak, Baltic Eye. Foto: Fredrik Wulff.
Maciej Tomczak, Baltic Eye. Photo: Fredrik Wulff.

This study demonstrated a change from an environment characterised by an extended shallow-water fish community to one dominated by a more open-sea type of fish community, with eutrophication still a problem despite drastic reductions in nutrient loadings. 

- We believe that the results of this study provide an important step towards better understanding the changes in the Gulf of Gdansk to improve integrated coastal zone management. Identifying changes that have taken place in an ecosystem helps to identify goods and services that have been lost. In management planning, it is useful to prioritise which functions must be restored to regain system benefits, and knowledge of the drivers behind ecosystem changes focuses management on the human activities that must be managed more sustainably, says Maciej Tomczak, lead-author of the paper. 

Authors:  M. T. Tomczak & L. Szymanek & M. Pastuszak & W. Grygiel & M. Zalewski & S. Gromisz & A. Ameryk & J. Kownacka & I. Psuty & E. Kuzebski & R. Grzebielec & P. Margoński

Read and download article: Evaluation of Trends and Changes in the Gulf of Gdańsk Ecosystem—an Integrated Approach

To the journal and issue: Estuaries and Coasts