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Macrozoobenthic assemblages in littoral sediments in the enclosed Rhine-Meuse Delta

, : Macrozoobenthic assemblages in littoral sediments in the enclosed Rhine-Meuse Delta. Netherlands Journal of Aquatic Ecology 28(2): 199-212

Littoral macrozoobenthos in the enclosed Rhine-Meuse Delta was investigated by taking 95 sediment samples from 17 sites between 1984 and 1990. In addition, a set of environmental parameters was determined. The aim was to identify the main assemblages and the environmental conditions under which they occur. By the use of TWINSPAN, three main littoral zoobenthic assemblages were distinguished, which were related to geographical zones and differences in sediment grain size distribution. The 'littoral river sand' assemblage was found in the most upstream part; it mainly consisted of 'interstitial' invertebrates, including the indicator species Vejdovskiella comata, Propappus sp. and Kloosia pusilla. The 'littoral sedimentation area silt' assemblage was dominated by Gammarus tigrinus, Einfeldia dissidens and Pisidium sp. It was found in several river sections and contained the indicator species Einfeldia dissidens, Potamopyrgus antipodarum and Valvata piscinalis. The 'littoral sandy basin' assemblage was concentrated in the littoral fine sands of the Haringvliet and contained the indicator species Pisidium henslowanum, P. moitessierianum, Cladotanytarsus sp. and Lipiniella arenicola. These three assemblages are the reflection of an interaction between habitat, food and disturbance. Palaeoecological analysis of insect remains revealed that 14 out of the 24 insect taxa, that were formerly common in the river sand habitat, are now extinct from the Rhine. The river silt habitat seems less impoverished: two out of the 19 insect taxa found in palaeoecological analysis are now extinct from the Rhine and seven are rare. Exotic species (Corbicula fluminea, C. fluminalis and Corophium curvispinum) have recently colonized the Rhine-Meuse Delta, but their impact on the macrozoobenthos seems limited. Corbicula spp. have become abundant in the 'littoral river sand' assemblage only.


DOI: 10.1007/bf02333991

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