, Volume 127, Issue 1-3, pp 459-475
Date: 05 Aug 2006

Influence of environmental properties on macrobenthos in the northwest Indian shelf

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Abstract

The paper deals with the standing stock of macrobenthic infauna and associated environmental factors influencing the benthic community in the shelf region of the northwest Indian coast. The data were collected onboard FORV Sagar Sampada during the winter monsoon (January–February, 2003) to understand the community structure and the factors influencing the benthic distribution. The environmental parameters, sediment characteristics and macrobenthic infauna were collected at 26 stations distributed in the depths between 30 and 200 m extending from nobreak{Mormugao} to Porbander. Total benthic abundance was high in lower depths (50–75 m), and low values noticed at 30 m depth contour was peculiar. Polychaetes were the dominant group and were more abundant in shallow and middle depths with moderate organic matter, clay and relatively high dissolved oxygen. On the other hand crustaceans and molluscs were more abundant in deeper areas having sandy sediment and low temperature. High richness and diversity of whole benthic groups observed in deeper depths counter balanced the opposite trend shown by polychaete species. Generally benthos preferred medium grain sized texture with low organic matter and high organic matter had an adverse effect especially on filter feeders. Deposit feeding polychaetes dominated in shallow depths while carnivore species in the middle depths. Ecologically, benthos were controlled by a combination of factors such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, sand and organic matter and no single factor could be considered as an ecological master factor.