Date of Award

Spring 1980

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Daniel M. Dauer

Committee Member

Raymond W. Alden, III

Committee Member

James F. Matta

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 H38


Macrobenthic invertebrates of an industrialized seaport ecosystem were studied seasonally from October, 1977 through July, 1978. Five stations were selected along the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, Virginia. The stations ranged from an area of heavy industrialization to a non-urbanized environment. At each station, bottom water was measured for salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH. Within each sampling area, macrobenthic infauna! invertebrates were collected from in and out of channel sites along with sediment samples for various types of physicochemical analysis.

Community structure was spatially homogeneous at station sites and throughout the stations along the River. Slightly acidic pH levels, resulting from the influx of tannic acids from the Great Dismal Swamp, did not alter the macrobenthic community structure in the upper reaches. Temporal patterns were slightly affected by sediment textural changes and/or reproductive recruitment. Changes in the sedimentary environment may have been due to the suspension of finer material from shipping activity, exposing the underlying, sandier sediments.

The practicality of species diversity indices as a useful criterion for determining water quality is also discussed.


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