Date of Award

Spring 1983

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

James F. Matta

Committee Member

Raymond W. Alden, III

Committee Member

Daniel M. Dauer

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 R625


Little is known about the aquatic macroinvertebrate community structure in coastal salt marshes. This study investigated the aquatic macroinvertebrate community structure in a coastal Virginia salt marsh. Sixteen samples were taken weekly from two different sites on Smith Island, Virginia, from April to mid-October 1982. Bimonthly samples were taken during the months March and November due to low density of organisms and reduced growth rates at these times.

A total of 46 taxa were collected with 17 occurring regularly, indicating a relatively diverse fauna. Wide fluctuations in the physical parameters were observed; however, temporal changes in the macroinvertebrate community cannot be attributed to these fluctuations in the physical environment except during extremes. Seasonal changes in the community were attributed to seasonal cycling of the community due to the individual life cycles of the resident organisms.

Species diversity remained quite high throughout the growing season and was only drastically reduced during drought periods. Fast recolonization of the prey species made the sites with the most severe conditions (highest frequency of drying) the most productive. This was thought to be due to predator elimination caused by drying.


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).