, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 384–391 | Cite as

Effects of low dissolved oxygen events on the macrobenthos of the lower Chesapeake Bay

  • Daniel M. Dauer
  • Anthony J. Rodi
  • J. Ananda Ranasinghe


The effects of low dissolved oxygen or hypoxia (<2 mg l−1) on macrobenthic infaunal community structure and composition in the lower Chesapeake Bay and its major tributaries, the Rappahannock, York, and James rivers are reported. Macrobenthic communities at hypoxia-affected stations were characterized by lower species diversity, lower biomass, a lower proportion of deep-dwelling biomass (deeper than 5 cm in the sediment), and changes in community composition. Higher dominance in density and biomass of opportunistic species (e.g., euryhaline annelids) and lower dominance of equilibrium species (e.g., long-lived bivalves and maldanid polychaetes) were observed at hypoxia-affected stations. Hypoxia-affected macrobenthic communities were found in the polyhaline deep western channel of the bay mainstem north of the Rappahannock River and in the mesohaline region of the lower Rappahannock River. No hypoxic effects on the infaunal macrobenthos were found in the York River, James River, or other deep-water channels of the lower Chesapeake Bay.


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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel M. Dauer
    • 1
  • Anthony J. Rodi
    • 1
  • J. Ananda Ranasinghe
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesOld Dominion UniversityNorfolk
  2. 2.ESM OperationsVersar, Inc.Columbia

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