Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 975–983 | Cite as

Seasonal Composition of Benthic Macroinfauna Exposed to Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

  • Melissa M. Baustian
  • Nancy N. Rabalais


Bottom-water hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico has increased in severity (duration, frequency, and intensity) since the 1970s and has impacted the less-mobile benthos ever since. From September 2003 to October 2004, the macrobenthic density, species richness, community composition, and vertical distribution were studied at a frequently hypoxic station, C6B (28°52.10′ N and 90°28.00′ W). The polychaete-dominated community was approximately three times less dense and diverse in post-hypoxic months compared to pre-hypoxic months. The lowest oxygen concentrations in July 2004 did not significantly affect the infaunal community as predicted; rather, the response was observed 1 month later after a longer, low-oxygen exposure. The opportunistic, hypoxia-tolerant polychaete, Paraprionospio pinnata, population increased in July 2004 when other common species decreased, thereby maintaining pre-hypoxic densities. Determining the duration and severity of hypoxia prior to sampling rather than at the time of sampling helps to better understand benthic community responses to hypoxia.


Benthos Hypoxia Density Diversity Northern Gulf of Mexico 



This project was co-funded by Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) and by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research grant no. NA03NOS4780037 to N. Rabalais. Our appreciation goes to J. Baustian, J. Lee, C. Milan, J. Plunket, L. Pride, K. Reynolds, and A. Sapp, for their field work participation. For laboratory assistance, we thank N. Atilla, L. Appelbaum, R. Carney, C. Milan, and R.E. Turner. Thank you to L. Pride for providing the continuous oxygen data and K. Sinclair and T. Widgeon for developing the map. Special thanks to four anonymous reviewers for improving our manuscript. This is publication number 116 of the NOAA CSCOR NGOMEX program.

Supplementary material

12237_2009_9187_MOESM1_ESM.doc (44 kb)
Table S1 Benthic infaunal densities (individuals m−2) for 14 monthly triplicate samples used to calculate the mean. (DOC 43 kb)
12237_2009_9187_MOESM2_ESM.doc (96 kb)
Table S2 List of macroinfauna identified monthly at station C6B from September 2003 to October 2004 off the coast of Louisiana. *** Benthic organism could not be identified to family level. (DOC 82 kb)


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Oceanography and Coastal SciencesLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.Louisiana Universities Marine ConsortiumChauvinUSA

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