A comparative analysis was made concerning the distribution of benthic macrophyte assemblages in shallow portions of Apalachee Bay (north Florida). This included a comparison of areas affected by bleached kraft mill effluents (BKME) (the Fenholloway River system) with appropriate uncontaminated
control stations (the Econfina River system). Meter-square samples of benthic macrophytes were collected monthly in both areas. Relative dominance was generally higher in the unpolluted areas. Four species of red algae (Laurencia poitei, Digenia simplex, Gracilaria verrucosa, Gracillaris
foliifera) were found at all stations. Areas of acute effect were found to have extrmely low biomass and characteristic assemblages of various macrophyte species. Most of the species in unpolluted areas were present in portions of the bay characterized by chronic (low) levels of BKME.
However, biomass was consistently reduced in such areas when compared to control stations. It was postulated that selective removal of dominant species by BKME (e.g., increased levels of color and turbidity) allowed recruitment of various “rare” species in areas of chronic impact,
thus contributing to anomalous patterns of community structure when compared to published data from other pollution-stressed aquatic systems.
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