Article

Marine Biology

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 203-223

First online:

Distribution and structure of benthic assemblages in Puget Sound, Washington, USA

  • U. LieAffiliated withBiological Station EspegrendDivision of Oceanography, UNESCO

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Abstract

Benthic infauna was collected with a 0.2 m2 van Veen grab at 48 stations in Puget Sound, Washington, USA during February–March 1969. All the crustaceans, lamellibranchs, and echinoderms were identified and counted. Particle size distributions and nitrogen contents of the sediments, depths, and temperature and salinity of the bottom water were determined at all stations. The first three factors of a factor analysis applied to between-stations measures of affinity, explained 41.26% of the total variance. The first factor had representative stations on shallow-water mud bottoms, the second factor on bottoms dominated by coarse sediments, and the third factor had representative stations on deep-water mud bottoms. The multiple correlation coefficients for each of the three factors with depth and mean particle size of the sediments were 0.752, 0.897, and 0.706, respectively. The factor analysis did not result in clusters of stations that could be interpreted as discrete benthic communities. The number of species per 0.6 m2 ranged from 8 to 55 species, with a mean of 26.4 species. The frequency distribution of specimens among the species was in good agreement with a log-normal distribution. The number of specimens per 0.6 m2 ranged from 57 to 1733 specimens, with a mean of 584.0 specimens. The species diversity ranged from 0.34 bits/individual to 4.35 bits/individual, and there was a weak trend of increasing diversity towards coarser sediments. The first three factors applied to the matrix of between-species correlation coefficients explained 43.72% of the total variance. With each factor there was one group of species with high positive loadings and one group with high negative loadings. Each group of species could be identified with particular environments. The standing crop, measured as ash-free dry weight, ranged from 0.490 to 54.093 g/m2, with a mean of 13.752 g/m2. Only about 24% of the variability in standing crop could be attributed to variability in sediment types, nitrogen content in the sediments, salinity of the bottom water, and depth.