Date of Award

Spring 1999

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

Committee Director

David M. Dauer

Committee Member

R. Warren Flint

Committee Member

Raymond W. Alden, III

Committee Member

Kent E. Carpenter


The benthic infaunal macroinvertebrate communities of Hog Island Bay of the Virginia Eastern Shore were quantitatively sampled at 30 locations on August 31 and September 1, 1995. The primary objectives of this study were: (1) to characterize the subtidal macroinfaunal benthic communities of Hog Island Bay, (2) to examine relationships between abiotic factors and the macroinfaunal communities and (3) to characterize the environmental condition of the system using the Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity (B-IBI) (Weisburg et al. 1997) and the EMAP Benthic Index for the Virginian Province (Strobel et al. 1995).

The ecological condition of Hog Island Bay appears to be largely defined by its geographic location and physical processes acting along a coastal zone. Multivariate statistical analyses reveal a community spatial pattern not unlike other temperate estuaries. Outside of a sharp community transition existing in the vicinity of Great Machipongo Inlet, benthic assemblages throughout the study area generally exhibit subtle boundaries and a high degree of internal similarity.

When compared among other estuaries and bays in the Virginian Province, community attributes measured for Hog Island Bay were most similar to polyhaline reaches of Chesapeake Bay. Also, both physical and biological data imply that the structure of Virginia's polyhaline benthic communities is different from that occurring in communities north of Virginia.

In terms of both the B-IBI and the EMAP index, the benthic community condition of Hog Island Bay may be viewed as exceptional when compared with other systems occurring throughout the Virginian Province.