Date of Award

Fall 1991

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Daniel M. Dauer

Committee Member

Raymond W. Alden, III

Committee Member

Ray S. Birdsong

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 L36


A study of the subtidal macrobenthos in Back Bay, Virginia was conducted to examine community structure in relation to sedimentary and water quality characteristics. Samples were collected in August and November of 1987 and February and May of 1988 at ten stations.

Three site groups and three temporal groups were identified by cluster analyses of species abundance. Species composition between site groups was relatively homogeneous and eight species accounted for most of the variation between site groups. A comparison of plots of the biological and physical data in discriminant space suggested that variations in the biological data between site groups was related in part to sediment type. Six species accounted for most of the variation between temporal groups. Temporal variation in macrobenthic community structure was the result of reproductive and recruitment events of these six species.

Species diversity indices were similar to values obtained in oligohaline regions of the Chesapeake Bay (Dauer et al. 1988; 1989). Community density was higher and community biomass was lower than values found in the Chesapeake Bay oligohaline areas (Dauer et al. 1988; 1989). Major changes in total community density and biomass were related to spatial and temporal changes in two dominant species: Chironomus riparius (Insecta) and Scolecolepides viridis (Polychaeta).


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).