Date of Award

Spring 1993

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Daniel M. Dauer

Committee Member

Raymond W. Alden, lll

Committee Member

Raymond S. Birdsong

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 H86


Long-term changes in the macrobenthos of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, Virginia were investigated by comparing the present study of community structure with that described ten years earlier by Hawthorne (1980). The results indicated that dominant organisms remained relatively constant in composition but exhibited considerable fluctuation in density. Differences in diversity and spatial distribution of fauna were also observed relative to the previous decade.

Multivariate statistical analyses indicated the macrobenthos exhibited significant spatial and seasonal patterns. Sediments characterized as silts and clays predominated down river while sandier sediment types were most common farther upriver. The spatial distributions of some species was qualitatively associated with these broad patterns in sediment type. Environmental conditions in the study area allowed the settlement of juvenile species capable of achieving high biomass but did not allow them to reach their adult maturity.


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