The sandhopper (Talitrus saltator, Montagu 1808) on the Polish Baltic coast. Is it a victim of increased tourism?
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Sandhopper occurrence and their habitat preferences were examined at 10 km intervals along 500 km of the Polish coastline in 1997. The sandy beach coastline was divided into 5 types based on physical factors. Compared to earlier data from 1950-70, sandhoppers were found in only 44% of their former sites of occurrence. In all sites examined, sandhopper density was markedly lower (an average of below 20 ind. m-2) compared to the former data (an average of 150 ind. m-2). The reasons for the sharp decline in sandhopper occurrence are discussed pointing at the increase of touristic activity and changes in trophic conditions as the most likely cause. Contamination alone is unlikely to affect the sandhoppers, since the most contaminated beaches at the Vistula Spit have been those with the highest sandhopper density observed recently.
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J.M. Weslawski, Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences ul. Powstancow Warszawy 55, 81-712 Sopot, Poland, e-mail: email@example.com