Macrobenthic assemblages, sediment characteristics and heavy metal concentrations in soft-bottom Ebre Delta bays (NW Mediterranean)

  • Esther JordanaEmail author
  • Susana Pinedo
  • Enric Ballesteros


The spatial distribution of soft-bottom macrofaunal assemblages and their relationship with sediment characteristics were examined in two semi-enclosed shallow-water bays (Alfacs Bay and Fangar Bay) in the Ebre Delta (Catalonia, NW Mediterranean) during 2006 and 2011. Three assemblages were identified: group 1, present in sediments that contain a high percentage of silt-clay, small median particle size and high organic matter content and located at the most external areas of both bays and in the central basin of Alfacs Bay; group 2, present in the shallow northern platform in Alfacs Bay and in both platforms in Fangar Bay, the locations which feature highly variable sediment characteristics; and group 3, present in the shallow areas of both bays, which are characterised by low silt-clay and organic matter content. In Alfacs Bay, the differentiation of these assemblages has persisted since 1987, independently of the increase in organic matter content and heavy metal concentrations and of the shift in macrofaunal composition that have occurred over the past 20 years, most likely the result of increased agricultural activity.


Soft-bottoms Macroinvertebrates Heavy metals Ebre Delta bays Mediterranean Sea 



Funding was provided by Agència Catalana de l’Aigua (Departament de Medi Ambient i Habitatge, Generalitat de Catalunya) and INTRAMURAL-CSIC project (reference 201330E065). We are grateful to M. P. Satta for her help in field missions, sample sorting and physicochemical analysis. We thank J. Gil, N. Fernández, M. P. Satta and M. P. Mura for their contributions to species identification. Thanks are also due to M. de Torres for her constant support during this study. Finally, we are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esther Jordana
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susana Pinedo
    • 1
  • Enric Ballesteros
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes (CSIC)BlanesSpain

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