Scientia Marina, Vol 77, No 1 (2013)

Distribution of intertidal macrobenthic assemblages in relation to environmental factors in the Tagus estuary, western Portugal


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.03628.21E

Anxo Conde
IBB-Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Centre for Biological and Chemical Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) - Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Universidade de Vigo , Spain

Júlio M. Novais
IBB-Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Centre for Biological and Chemical Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) , Portugal

Jorge Domínguez
Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Universidade de Vigo , Spain

Abstract


Fourteen intertidal sites from the eastern mid-region of the Tagus estuary were considered in order to study their macrobenthic assemblages in relation to environmental factors. The salinity gradient was displayed in an ordination of the assemblages by non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS). However, salinity was not found to be a significant environmental factor to explain the distribution of the assemblages. Conversely, a lateral gradient characterized three clusters of sites identified in relation to their outer, intermediate and inner location also related to organic matter content, oxygen concentration and redox potential values. Although the hydrodynamic factor was not investigated it is thought to be an important environmental factor for characterizing the lateral gradient. As a general trend, there was a transition between the groups of assemblages from the lower estuary towards the inner and upstream locations. The polychaetes Lanice conchilega and Hediste diversicolor and the gastropod Hydrobia ulvae were the characteristic species in the outer, inner and intermediate groups of sites, respectively. It was concluded that the lateral gradient is the main environmental driver that explains the distribution of the intertidal macrobenthic assemblages in the Tagus estuary when the salinity gradient is not find to be a significant environmental factor.

Keywords


community transition; salinity gradient; lateral gradient; static factors; indicative species; estuarine zones

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