Response of infaunal macrobenthos to the sediment granulometry in a tropical continental margine southwest coast of India
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Surficial sediment samples, collected from the continental margin of the southwest coast of India in July 2004, were examined for the grain size and soft-bottom macrobenthic fauna, to understand the sediment granulometry and its effect on the faunal distribution. Samples were collected using Smith-McIntyre Grab, from 20 to 200 m depth range, consisting of mid-shelf, outer shelf and slope. Fine-grained sediment located in the mid shelf and supported low faunal abundance. Polychaetes constituted the bulk of the fauna. Feeding guild changed with depth and sediment granulometry. Coexistence of deposit feeders and carnivores in outer shelf and deposit feeders and filter feeders in the slope region indicated the effective utilization of different food resources. In general, richness and diversity were high in the southern region. Depth wise, the diversity and abundance were relatively high in the 50-75 m depth range. Correlation and BIO-ENVanalysis showed that combination of different factors such as sediment texture, sediment sorting and depth were found to influence the distribution of macrobenthos. Hence, spatial variations observed in benthic community were presumably linked to the variations in sediment granulometry and the energy level conditions prevailing in the area.
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