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Volume 37- Number 1 - 2002

The community-level response to sewage impact in intertidal mytilid beds of the Southwestern Atlantic and the use of the Shannon index to assess pollution

Eduardo Alberto Vallarino, Ma.Silvia Rivero, Ma.Carola Gravina & Rodolfo Elías


Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Departamento de Ciencias Marinas, Deán Funes 3350 (B 7602 AYL) Mar del Plata, Argentina. Fax 0054 0223 475 3150



A study of an intertidal mytilid community in the Southwestern Atlantic shore was carried out in order to characterize the mytilid bed’s response to an intertidal sewage discharge. Four Stations were sampled around the outfall, with a Control site. Total Weight and Organic Carbon content of sediments among mussels, as well as water quality variables were measured. All macrofauna were counted, and species number, Shannon’s diversity index and evenness were calculated. The mytilid Brachidontes rodriguezi increases it density inversely to distance to the effluent. The polychaetes Capitella capitata and Boccardia polybranchia characterized the most impacted Stations, while crustaceans (Corophium insidiosum, Jassa falcata and Caprella sp.) were dominant at medial distances. Both environmental and biological data show significative differences between Stations. The most impacted Station has the lowest species number, but the highest values of both diversity and evenness; while control Station has the lowest values of diversity and evenness. The study reject the use of univariate indices to assess organic pollution in this community, being the presence of indicator species with mytilid proportion the best tool for sewage impact assessment.


Key words: mytilid beds, community structure, univariate index, intertidal sewage, Southwestern Atlantic


1Laboratorio de Zooplancton, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología,Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. A. P. 70-305, 04510 México, D. F. México
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