Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 176, Issue 1–4, pp 427–438 | Cite as

Eutrophication induced changes in benthic community structure of a flow-restricted tropical estuary (Cochin backwaters), India

  • G. D. MartinEmail author
  • P. A. Nisha
  • K. K. Balachandran
  • N. V. Madhu
  • M. Nair
  • P. Shaiju
  • T. Joseph
  • K. Srinivas
  • G. V. M. Gupta


The influence of anthropogenic loading on the distribution of soft bottom benthic organisms of a tropical estuary (Cochin backwaters) was examined. The industrial activities were found to be high in the northern and central part of the estuary, where dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN > 210 μM) and phosphorus (DIP > 6.5 μM) have caused high abundance of chlorophyll a (up to 73 mg m − 3) and accumulation of organic carbon in sediments (up to 5%). Principal component analysis distinguished three zones in the estuary. The central zone (Z1) was characterized by organic enrichment, low species diversity, and increased number of pollution tolerant species. Long-term deterioration of the estuary is indicated by an increase in the nutrients and chlorophyll a levels by sixfold during the last few decades. Flow restrictions in the lower estuary have lead to a fourfold increase in sediment organic carbon over the period of three decades. The reduced benthic diversity followed by an invasion of opportunistic polychaetes (Capitella capitata), are indicative of a stress in the estuary.


Eutrophication Nutrient enhancement Anthropogenic loads Macrobenthos Pollution assessment Cochin estuary 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. D. Martin
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • P. A. Nisha
    • 1
  • K. K. Balachandran
    • 1
  • N. V. Madhu
    • 1
  • M. Nair
    • 1
  • P. Shaiju
    • 1
  • T. Joseph
    • 1
  • K. Srinivas
    • 1
  • G. V. M. Gupta
    • 2
  1. 1.National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR), Regional CenterCochinIndia
  2. 2.Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management-Project DirectorateMinistry of Earth SciencesChennaiIndia
  3. 3.Department of Chemical OceanographyCochin University of Science and TechnologyCochin – 16India

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