Spatial variation of intertidal macroinvertebrates and environmental variables in Robbins Passage wetlands, NW Tasmania
Spruzen, FL and Richardson, AMM and Woehler, E, Spatial variation of intertidal macroinvertebrates and environmental variables in Robbins Passage wetlands, NW Tasmania, Hydrobiologia: the international journal on limnology and marine sciences, 598, (1) pp. 325-342. ISSN 0018-8158 (2008) [Refereed Article]
Macroinvertebrate composition, abundance and biomass were investigated at four intertidal sites throughout the Robbins Passage wetlands, Tasmania, over a 12-month period, in order to identify differences among and within sites, and to determine whether environmental variables could explain these differences. As this region is the most important shorebird area in Tasmania, we wanted to quantify the potential food source for shorebirds within the wetlands. Thirty-five taxa from 28,928 individuals were identified, with a mean abundance of 6026.6 ind m-2 and biomass of 27.1 gDW m-2. Bivalves and gastropods dominated the assemblage in terms of abundance and biomass (79% and 60%, respectively). There was a significant interaction among tidal level, site and season for invertebrate abundance and diversity, while biomass differed significantly among sites. In general, the mid-intertidal stratum had the greatest invertebrate density and diversity, while the low intertidal stratum had the greatest biomass. Community composition varied among the four sites, with the bivalve Paphies elongata dominating at two of the sites, while gastropods and polychaetes were more abundant at the other sites. Differences in invertebrate composition and abundance could partly be explained by seagrass biomass, i.e., dry mass of seagrass leaves and roots. Areas with seagrass had increased invertebrate abundance and diversity, but mean sediment particle size, % organic carbon and % seagrass cover had no significant effect. These results will assist in the investigation of habitat use by shorebirds and the identification of important shorebird feeding areas within the wetlands.