The Effects of a Dredge Excavation Pit on Benthic Macrofauna in Offshore Louisiana

Date

2008-02-05

Authors

Palmer, Terence A.
Montagna, Paul A.
Nairn, Robert B.

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Environmental Management

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Abstract

Over two years after the original creation of a sand excavation pit 8 km off the Louisiana coast, benthic macrofauna communities and sedimentary characteristics are still effected. Macrofaunal communities inside the pit had lower abundance, biomass, and diversity than communities outside the pit. This difference, however, was only significant with some of the stations outside the pit. Results from multi-dimensional scaling and cluster analysis showed that macrofaunal communities were less than 32% similar inside the pit to communities outside the pit. The polychaete Mediomastus ambiseta was the most abundant species outside the excavation pit, but the species was only counted once inside the pit. The most dominant species, which made up over 90% of organisms inside the pit, was the pioneer polychaete Paraprionospio pinnata. Only three species were found at each station inside the pit as opposed to 9–27 species at stations outside the pit. All species inside the pit were also found outside the pit; thus, change was due to a loss of species rather than replacement by different species. Sediment inside the pit contained more silt and clay; however, no difference in water quality was detected compared with outside the pit. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita passed near the dredge pit in 2005 and could have effected sediment transport in the region. Because the macrofaunal community inside the pit has not recovered within 38 months, it is likely that it will require more time before it resembles the surrounding conditions.

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Palmer, T.A., P.A. Montagna, and R.B. Nairn. 2008. The Effects of a Dredge Excavation Pit on Benthic Macrofauna in Offshore Louisiana. Environmental Management 41:573-583. doi: 10.1007/s00267-007-9063-5

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