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Research article2010Peer reviewed

Relative importance of multiple environmental variables in structuring benthic macroinfaunal assemblages in chronically metal-polluted salt marshes

Goto, Daisuke; Wallace, William G.


In this study, we assessed importance of sediment-associated trace metals in structuring benthic macroinfaunal assemblages along multiple environmental gradients in chronically polluted salt marshes of the Arthur Kill - AK (New York, USA). More than 90% of benthic macroinfaunal communities at the northern AK sites consisted of a considerably large number of only a few polychaete and oligochaete species. Approximately 70% of among-site variances in abundance and biomass of benthic macroinfaunal communities was strongly associated with a few environmental variables; only sediment-associated mercury consistently contributed to a significant proportion of the explained variances in species composition along natural environmental gradients (e.g., salinity). Although sediment-associated copper, lead, and zinc were substantially elevated at some of the AK sites, their ecological impacts on benthic macroinfaunal communities appeared to be negligible. These findings suggest that cumulative metal-specific impacts may have played an important role in structuring benthic macroinfaunal communities in chronically polluted AK ecosystems. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Benthic macroinvertebrate; Trace metal; Tidal salt marsh; New York, USA; Non-metric multidimensional scaling; Canonical correspondence analysis

Published in

Marine Pollution Bulletin
2010, Volume: 60, number: 3, pages: 363-375

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

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