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A new method for detecting pollution effects on marine macrobenthic communities

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A method is described by which the pollution status of a marine macrobenthic community may be assessed without reference to a temporal or spatial series of control samples. Theoretical considerations suggest that the distribution of numbers of individuals among species should behave differently from the distribution of biomass among species when influenced by pollution-induced disturbance. Combined k-dominance plots for species biomass and numbers take three possible forms representing unpolluted, moderately polluted and grossly polluted conditions, one curve acting as an “internal control” against which the other can be compared. Field data from unpolluted communities and from a well documented temporal pollution gradient support the model, but further empirical testing is required.

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Communicated by J. Mauchline, Oban

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Warwick, R.M. A new method for detecting pollution effects on marine macrobenthic communities. Mar. Biol. 92, 557–562 (1986).

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