, Volume 555, Issue 1, pp 99–113 | Cite as

Spatial Patterns of Benthic Macroinvertebrates in Intertidal Areas of a Southern European Estuary: The Tagus, Portugal

  • Ana Maria RodriguesEmail author
  • Sónia Meireles
  • Teresa Pereira
  • Alice Gama
  • Victor Quintino


This study characterizes the composition and spatial distribution patterns of the benthic macrofauna in the intertidal mudflats of the Tagus estuary, western Portugal. A total of 68 species, more than 226,000 specimens with a total wet weight biomass of approximately 1170 g were identified in 380 sites. The species Streblospio shrubsolii, Cyathura carinata, Tharyx sp., Hydrobia ulvae and Tubificids were the most common and abundant. Scrobicularia plana strongly dominated the biomass. The invertebrate macrofauna of the Tagus estuary shows similarities to what is known from other temperate mudflats. The diversity of species, their overall abundance and the ratio of Molluscs plus Crustaceans to Polychaete species corroborate the distinctiveness between temperate and tropical mudflats and sandflats. The spatial distribution of the fauna reflects the sediment characteristics but the relationship between the environmental and the biological data is not as strong as obtained for sublittoral areas. This relationship diminishes from the sublittoral shelf to sublittoral estuarine areas, showing minimum values in this study, suggesting that such a relationship is less straightforward as natural disturbance increases. Nevertheless, a mixture of grain-size, elevation (inundation time) and particular habitats (relic oyster beds) form the best explanatory factors for the spatial distribution patterns of the intertidal benthic macrofauna of the Tagus estuary.

Key words

spatial patterns benthic macroinvertebrates intertidal Tagus estuary 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Maria Rodrigues
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sónia Meireles
    • 1
  • Teresa Pereira
    • 1
  • Alice Gama
    • 1
  • Victor Quintino
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia, Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e Mar – CESAMUniversidade de AveiroAveiroPortugal

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