Benthic community structure in the Gorgan Bay (Southeast of the Caspian Sea, Iran): Correlation to water physiochemical factors and heavy metal concentration of sediment

Mahmood Saghali, Rauf Baqraf, Seyed Abbas Hosseini, Rahman Patimar

Abstract

Macrobentos frequency and biomass was investigated in the Gorgan Bay in 2011. Five sampling sites were chosen to collect benthos and sediment from the Bay using a Van Veen grab sampler. Samples were collected seasonally. Macrobenthos were indentified and their biomass was recorded. Sediment heavy metals concentration were measured using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy. A total of 11 families belonging to three phyla of invertebrates were found. The phyla were Annelids (Nereidae, Naididae, Ampharetidae, Lumbriculidae, Tubificidae and Amphiporidae), Arthropods (Pontogammaridae, Balanidae and Chironomidae) and Mollusks (Cardiidae and Scrobicularidae). Lumbriculidae (413 individuals m-2, corresponding to 18.7%) and Cardiidae (55.2 g m-2, corresponding to 82.4%) had the highest frequency and biomass, respectively. Annelids with an average of 1557 individuals m-2 was the most frequent groups, while, mollusks with the average of 141 g per m2 had the highest biomass. Results showed that macrobenthos frequency in summer was significantly higher than those of the other seasons, however, in the case of biomass, there was a significantly higher biomass in the spring than the other seasons. The maximum metal concentration was related to Zn and Pb, whereas, Cr and Cd had the lowest values. There was no significant difference in Zn and Cr concentrations among the sampling seasons. Pb concentration in winter was significantly lower than the other seasons, whereas, Cd concentrations in the spring and summer were significantly lower than the autumn and winter. There were some correlations between benthos frequency and water physiochemical characteristics and sediment heavy metal levels. This study indicated that benthic fauna of the Gorgan Bay and the Caspian Sea are not similar. Also, results showed that benthic fauna communities are affected by sediment heavy metal concentrations and water physiochemical characteristics, however, different benthos groups show unsimilar relationship with heavy metal concentration.

Keywords

Macrobenthos, Biomass, Frequency, Gorgan Bay, Caspian Sea, Heavy metal

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