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Development of infaunal populations and below-ground organic matter from three created Spartina alterniflora marshes in Galveston Bay, Texas
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High rates of wetland loss in the northern Gulf of Mexico have stimulated efforts to create marshes on dredged material. These marshes may not function similarly to their natural counterparts in supporting infaunal populations used as food by estuarine animals. Newly created marshes often have relatively low levels of organic matter in the sediments and low infaunal abundance. However, organic matter and infaunal populations in created marshes may develop over time. To examine the relationships between infaunal abundance and sediment parameters, two created marshes (ages 5 and 9 years) were compared with a newly created marsh in the same location. over a two-year period, core samples were taken quarterly to measure infaunal density, live root and detritus biomass, and sediment organic content and grain size, at different elevations in each of the marshes. Samples were collected at and between culms of Spartina alterniflora. The vertical distribution of the infauna was also examined. overall infaunal densities and species richness in the youngest marsh were comparable to those in the other marshes within the first year. However, the newest marsh was dominated by the subsurface deposit feeding polychaete, Capitella capitata, while the two older marshes were dominated by the surface deposit feeding polychaete, Streblospio benedicti. In general, low elevation was correlated with high infaunal abundances, more animals were collected in cores at culms of Spartina alterniflora, and most of the infauna were found in the upper 2.5 cm of sediment. There was evidence of accumulation of organic matter over the two-year study period, and organic matter levels were lowest in the newest marsh. There was no general relationship between concentrations of sediment organic matter and detritus and infaunal abundance. However, there was a positive relationship between infaunal abundance and the amount of live roots and rhizomes present, and this relationship appeared strongest during spring and summer. The results of this study suggest that factors other than organic matter concentrations control infaunal populations.
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Includes bibliographical references: p. 78-90.
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Goldberg, Alisha Renee (1996). Development of infaunal populations and below-ground organic matter from three created Spartina alterniflora marshes in Galveston Bay, Texas. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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