Marine Biology

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 65–78

Benthic invertebrate assemblages of Delaware Bay

  • D. Maurer
  • L. Watling
  • P. Kinner
  • W. Leathem
  • C. Wethe


During two consecutive summers, the first quantitative bay-wide survey (207 stations) of benthic invertebrates was conducted in Delaware Bay (USA). In 1972, 109 species were collected at 105 stations; and in 1973, 125 species were collected at 102 stations. A total of 169 different species were collected for both summers. The number of species and number of individuals increased with increasing salinity and increasing median grain size. These relationships were compared and were found similar to those in estuaries and bays throughout the world. Average density was 722 individuals m2, which is low compared to other estuaries. The relationship of low secondary production to pollution, macroscopic algae, sediment transport, predation, and hydrography is discussed. Deposit feeders comparised the major feeding type. Local species composition was similar to that in Chesapeake Bay, and dominant species occurred in estuaries throughout the Mid-Atlantic Bight. The benthic invertebrates of Delaware Bay were related to the cosmopolitan mode of estuarine faunas. Faunal assemblages were identified by cluster analysis. The assemblages were associated with sediment type and salinity. It was concluded that Delaware Bay comprises a mosaic of animal assemblages, some of which have relatively sharp boundaries similar to classical level bottom type communities, whereas the boundaries of others are almost impossible to detect, and these represent species distributed along an environmental continum.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Maurer
    • 1
  • L. Watling
    • 2
  • P. Kinner
    • 1
  • W. Leathem
    • 1
  • C. Wethe
    • 1
  1. 1.Field Station, College of Marine StudiesUniversity of DelawareLewesUSA
  2. 2.Ira C. Darling CenterUniversity of MaineWalpoleUSA

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