An experimental study on recolonization and succession of marine macrobenthos in defaunated sediment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Hypoxia/anoxia in coastal waters is a world wide problem which often results in mass mortality and defaunation of benthos. In this study, field experiments were carried out to examine recolonization and succession of macrobenthic infauna in defaunated sediments, and the time required for recovery from complete defaunation to a stable community. Trays (33 cm length x 25.5 cm width x 11 cm depth) of defaunated sediment were exposed at the subtidal of a pristine site in subtropical Hong Kong. Temporal changes of macrobenthic communities in defaunated sediment were analyzed by univariate and multivariate statistics, and compared with those in undisturbed natural sediment at the same site. Initial colonization of macrobenthos occurred rapidly. A total of 42 species was found, with an average of 258 animals per tray and 24 species per tray recorded in the first month. Abundance showed a small peak (496 animals per tray) after 3 months, reached a sharp peak (1154 animals per tray) after 6 months, and declined thereafter. Species number increased gradually, reached a maximum (68 species per tray) after 9 months, and then decreased. Recolonization was predominantly contributed by larval settlement rather than adult migration. Temporal changes in abundance, species number and diversity of the macrobenthic community in defaunated sediment resemble the spatial changes along a decreasing pollution gradient previously defined by other authors. Results of this experiment suggest that newly available sediment may allow more species to colonize (or coexist) than sediment pre-occupied by an established community. This is probably due to less interspecific competition in the former habitat. No significant difference in abundance or species richness was observed between defaunated and natural sediments after 15 months, suggesting that a stable community had been achieved, although minor variations in species composition were still discernible between defaunated and natural sediments. Copyright © 2000 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-302
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000


Lu, L., & Wu, R. S. S. (2000). An experimental study on recolonization and succession of marine macrobenthos in defaunated sediment. Marine Biology, 136(2), 291–302. doi: 10.1007/s002270050687


  • Tray
  • Interspecific competition
  • Species number
  • Multivariate statistic
  • Spatial change


Dive into the research topics of 'An experimental study on recolonization and succession of marine macrobenthos in defaunated sediment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.