The response of benthic macrofauna to anthropogenic stress in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island: A review of human stressors and assessment of community conditions

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The present state of knowledge regarding the input of anthropogenic pollutants into Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island was reviewed and benthic infaunal communities present at four depositional environments within the upper Bay were characterized. Inter-station differences in species composition and abundance of these assemblages were examined in relation to established pollution gradients. Using diversity curves and multivariate statistics, evidence of significant anthropogenic impact on the structure of benthic macrofaunal communities in Narragansett Bay was identified. The magnitude of this impact was greatest at stations closest to the Bay's urban centers, where exposure to multiple stressors had resulted in communities of opportunistic taxa which persisted in a state of low faunal diversity characteristic of early stages of species succession. As was expected based on historic models of faunal succession; the apparent maturity of benthic assemblages in Narragansett Bay increased along the north-south gradient of decreasing anthropogenic stress. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Marine Pollution Bulletin