, Volume 282-283, Issue 1, pp 251-264

Long-term changes (1979–89) in the intertidal macrozoobenthos of the Oosterschelde estuary: are patterns in total density, biomass and diversity induced by the construction of the storm-surge barrier?

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To evaluate the effects of the construction of a storm surge barrier in the Oosterschelde, long-term patterns (1979–89) in abundance and biomass of the intertidal macrozoobenthos were studied at 14 permanent stations. Additionally, data of a large-scale survey in late summer 1985 and 1989 were analysed. In this paper, patterns in general parameters are discussed.

Late summer values of total biomass, total density, species richness, diversity and abundance- and biomass ratio show no overall significant trend during the study period. The changes in the hydrodynamics and the morphology of the Oosterschelde after the completion of the storm surge barrier do not seem to have influenced the normal patterns in benthic populations. The observed patterns are determined by the occurrence of severe versus mild winters, rather than by hydrodynamic changes caused by the construction of the barrier. Low biomasses, high densities (particularly of opportunistic species) and higher “stress-values” (abundance- and biomass ratio) in 1985(−87) indicate a temporal disturbance by severe winter weather. At the elevated COST-station 27, total biomass decreased sharply in 1985, due to a short-term increase in exposure time, caused by the manipulation of the storm surge barrier.