Recolonization and succession of marine macrobenthos in organic-enriched sediment deposited from fish farms

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High organic loading deposited on the sea bottom by marine fish farming activities often eliminates benthic organisms in the vicinity. In this study, organic-enriched sediment collected underneath a fish farm was defaunated, placed in settling trays and exposed to the subtidal area of a clean site of similar hydrography. Trays were sampled monthly for a consecutive period of 5 months, and recolonization and successional patterns of macrobenthos were studied using univariate and multivariate statistics. Recolonization occurred rapidly, and averages of 144 animals/tray and 26 species/tray were recorded within the first month. Molluscs accounted for 49% of species and polychaetes for 77% of abundance during the first month of recolonization. Temporal changes in abundance, diversity and species composition found in subsequent months resembled spatial changes of benthic community along a decreasing pollution gradient generalised by Pearson and Rosenberg. Abundance reached a peak after 3 months (434 animals/tray) and then declined. Species number also increased, peaked after 4 months (47 species/tray), and was followed by a decrease. The polychaete Prionospio malmgreni succeeded Pseudopolydora paucibranchiata as the dominant species after the first month, reached a peak (194 animals/tray) after 3 months, then declined sharply. The rapid recolonization and succession of the macrobenthic community on organic-enriched sediment suggested that present fish farming methods are unlikely to have a long-term impact on benthic communities once farming activities are reduced/ceased. Copyright © 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-251
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998



Lu, L., & Wu, R. S. S. (1998). Recolonization and succession of marine macrobenthos in organic-enriched sediment deposited from fish farms. Environmental Pollution, 101(2), 241-251. doi: 10.1016/S0269-7491(98)00041-4


  • Benthos
  • Recovery
  • Marine fish culture