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Benthic macrofauna in Tasmanian estuaries: scales of distribution and relationships with environmental variables


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Edgar, GJ and Barrett, NS 2002 , 'Benthic macrofauna in Tasmanian estuaries: scales of distribution and relationships with environmental variables' , Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, vol. 270, no. 1 , pp. 1-24 , doi: 10.1016/S0022-0981(02)00014-X.

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Information on the distribution of species richness, faunal density, biomass and estimated
productivity of benthic invertebrates in Tasmanian estuaries was quantified at a variety of spatial and
temporal scales to assess general hypothesis relating community metrics to such environmental
variables as salinity, seagrass biomass and sediment particle size. An associated aim was to assess
appropriate scales of investigation for soft-sediment biota distributed in estuaries, including whether
patterns identified at individual sites, estuaries, tidal levels or times are likely to have more general
relevance. Faunal biomass and productivity varied principally at between-estuary (10 to 1000 km)
and replicate-sample CI m) scales, indicating that these two community metrics were largely
responding to estuary-wide effects, such as nutrient loading, and to microhabitat features, rather than
to locality characteristics at intermediate scales such as salinity, anoxia or sediment particle size. By
contrast, faunal density showed greater response to tidal height (1 to 100 m) and to factors distributed
at the locality scale within estuary (10 km) than to factors between estuary. Both fatinal density and
species richness in estuaries declined over three- and fivefold ranges down the shore from high water
mark to the shallow sublittoral, while estimated productivity and biomass showed highest overall
levels at low water mark The greatest component of variance in species richness was associated with
tidal height, with variance then distributed approximately evenly between other spatial scales
examined At the low-tide and shallow subtidal levels, species richness, faunal biomass and
estimated productivity were all highly correlated with salinity and biomass of macrophytes, whereas
fauna[ density was highly correlated with biomass of macrophytes only.
Relationships between
environmental and biological variables examined were poorly defined at high tidal levels, Seasonal
plus interannual variance was much lower than spatial variance a clear indication that sampling
effort in studies would generally be better directed across a range of localities than for a single
locality to be repeatedly investigated over time.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Edgar, GJ and Barrett, NS
Keywords: Benthos; Estuaries; Macrofauna; Productivity; Species richness; Tasmania
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
ISSN: 0022-0981
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/S0022-0981(02)00014-X
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