Long term effects of human activity on benthic macrofauna adjacent to McMurdo Station, Antarctica




Smith, Sara M.


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Sediments in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica have been altered through contamination derived from McMurdo Station. Long-term monitoring of benthic communities provides a basis for assessment of impacts located near known sources of historic pollution. The objectives of the present study are to determine if any changes in benthic community abundance, biomass, and diversity occurred over time and if the change was due to contamination effects by comparing benthic communities between polluted and reference stations. Benthic cores were collected from either three or four transects at depths of 12, 24, and 36 meters during the austral summers of 2000 and 2003 to 2012. Transects included: Winter Quarters Bay and the Sewage Outfall, located near known sources of historic pollution; and Intake Jetty and Cape Armitage that are non-polluted, reference transects. Macrofauna metrics and a Benthic Index of Biological Integrity (BIBI) were used to test for spatial and temporal changes in macrofaunal communities. Disturbance-related spatial differences were detected using BIBI-ranks at Winter Quarters Bay indicating pollution effects in benthic communities at that location. Benthic community composition changed among all stations, disturbed and reference, over time. Therefore, the observed shifts in macrofaunal communities can primarily be attributed to natural processes rather than changes from contamination effects.


A Thesis Paper Submitted In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of MASTER OF SCIENCE, Environmental Science Program


contamination, benthic, human impacts, environmental monitoring



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