, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 258-269

Benthic infauna of eelgrass,Zostera marina, beds

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The infauna ofZostera beds in the Chesapeake Bay-York River estuary and Chincoteague Bay was sampled in March and July 1970 using a corer. Sediments were fine sand or very fine sand. Sorting of sediments varied from poorly sorted to moderately well-sorted and appeared to be positively correlated with the density ofZostera at the respective stations.

A total of 117 macroinvertebrate taxa was collected. Species number decreased both up the estuary and seasonally from March to July. Movement of epifaunal species from the sediments where they occur in winter months whenZostera is scarce, to the leaves in summer accounted partly for this seasonal difference. This seasonal decrease was not noted at the station farthest up-estuary whereZostera was scarce all year. Faunal similarity of the areas sampled, as measured by three indices, indicates that the infauna of mostZostera beds in the Chespeake Bay area is similar, except at the up-estuary limits ofZostera distribution.

Macrofaunal density was higher than that of any other benthic habitat in the Chesapeake Bay.

Contribution No. 561 from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062.