Ecology of the Ythan Estuary, north east Scotland

Data set information

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Data holding centreCulterty Field Station, University of Aberdeen
CountryUnited Kingdom  United Kingdom
Time periodNot specified
Geographical area

Ythan Estuary, north east coast of Scotland, United Kingdom


Macroalgae and seagrass taxonomy-related counts; Bird counts; Fauna abundance per unit area of the bed; Fish taxonomy-related counts; Insect and earthworm taxonomy-related abundance per unit area of the bed; Nitrate concentration parameters in the water column; Phosphate concentration parameters in the water column; Macroalgae generic abundance in water bodies; Silicate concentration parameters in the water column; Nitrite concentration parameters in the water column; Phytoplankton taxonomic abundance in water bodies


Plankton nets; pelagic trawl nets; benthos samplers; discrete water samplers; observers; nutrient analysers


The Ythan estuary in north east Scotland is one of the best documented in the British Isles. Long term studies have revealed the complexity of its food webs and population interactions. The estuary lies approximately 20km north of Aberdeen. It is about 8km in length and has an average width of 300m. Over 250 species of bird have been recorded within the Forvie National Nature Reserve, where the Ythan estuary is situated. An extensive range of investigations has been carried out on the Ythan's birds, but two species have been the subject of long term studies: the eider duck (Somateria mollissima) and the shelduck (Tadorna tadorna). The estuary's mudflats and mussel beds are home to large numbers of invertebrates, which provide a food supply to the birds and also fish, shrimps and crabs. The most common fish are the flounder (Platichthys flesus) and the sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus), both of which have been studied extensively. The long term data sets maintained for the Ythan estuary are very valuable for increasing understanding of eutrophication processes. These include information on nutrient concentrations, algal abundance, invertebrate densities and numbers of shorebirds over the past twenty to thirty years.

OriginatorsHealth and Safety Executive Offshore Safety Division

Gorman, M. and Raffaelli, D. (1993) The Ythan estuary., Biologist. Vol 40(1). pp10-13.

OrganisationCulterty Field Station, University of Aberdeen
AvailabilityBy negotiation
ContactDiane Pattaell

Culterty Field Station, University of Aberdeen
AB25 3AA
United Kingdom

Collating centreBritish Oceanographic Data Centre
Local identifier1003001
Global identifier1279
Last revised2010-01-15