Environmental Science and Management


Stolt, Mark

Advisor Department

Natural Resources Science




Subaqueous soils; macroinvertebrates; benthic; dredging


Bianca Peixoto

Senior Honors Project

Macroinvertebrate Assemblages and Dynamic Soil Properties: Influence of Dredging: Abstract

The habitat characterization of subaqueous soils is important for inventorying natural resources and monitoring changes in ecosystem processes. This project aimed to characterize benthic communities within coastal ponds of southern Rhode Island, and develop an understanding of how these communities change due to habitat alterations. I explored the distribution of benthic biology among a range of estuarine subaqueous soils and the effect of anthropogenic disturbance (dredging) on these distributions. The term “benthic” refers to the collection of organisms living in the substrate at the interface between the water column and the underlying subaqueous soils. Despite their small size, sometimes microscopic, size, these benthic organisms can have a large impact on the characteristics of subaqueous soils and on other organisms dwelling in the waters.

In this study, I used taxonomic keys to identify the relationships between the invertebrate communities and the subaqueous soils. I investigated differences in species diversity and abundance between subaqueous soils with different morphological characteristics. Identifying the organisms will lead to a classification of benthic community assemblages for these soils. The soil samples used in this project were collected from sites that have been dredged and sites that have not been dredged. This allowed me to quantify the organisms’ resistance and resilience to the change that occurs because of dredging activities. I also analyzed the soil samples for pH level, incubation pH level (a metric of sulfide content), particle size, soil organic matter, and calcium carbonate content