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Benthic macroinvertebrates as indicators of environmental deterioration in a large microtidal estuary

Wildsmith, M.D., Rose, T.H., Potter, I.C., Warwick, R.M. and Clarke, K.R. (2011) Benthic macroinvertebrates as indicators of environmental deterioration in a large microtidal estuary. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 62 (3). pp. 525-538.

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This study tested the hypothesis that, during recent years, the benthic macroinvertebrate fauna of the large basin of the Swan-Canning Estuary has changed in ways consistent with deteriorating environmental conditions in that estuary. Between 1986/7 and 2003/4, the compositions of that fauna altered markedly at the species and even family levels. Thus, the densities and number of species of molluscs, and especially of crustaceans, which are particularly susceptible to environmental stress, declined, while those of the more tolerant polychaetes increased. However, taxonomic distinctness declined consistently only at one of the four widely-spaced sampling sites and the dispersion of samples did not differ markedly between periods, indicating that the benthic fauna has not undergone such extreme changes as in the nearby Peel-Harvey Estuary. It is thus proposed that benthic macroinvertebrates can act as important indicators of the severity of environmental degradation in microtidal estuaries in regions where such perturbations are increasing.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
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