Multivariate statistical analyses were employed to identify environmental gradients and describe distributional patterns of benthic macroinvertebrates (numbers, biomass and species composition) in subtidal sediments of a shallow, southeastern United States estuary. Biomass and numbers
of individuals increased significantly along a major estuarine gradient from fine anaerobic sediments, rich in organic matter and pheopigment (upper estuary) to coarse aerobic sediments, high in ATP and chlorophyll (lower estuary). A second environmental gradient within the lower estuary linked
high numbers of invertebrates to depositional areas near salt marshes and low numbers to turbulent regions adjacent to deep, tidally-scoured channels. Invertebrate species composition was spatially associated with both environmental gradients.
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