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Assessing the benthic habitat quality in the Huanghe(Yellow River) Estuary and its adjacent areas using AMBI and M-AMBI

Author(s): Luo X, Zhang J, Yang J, Song W, Cui W

Abstract

The protection of the biological diversity and the maintenance of the regional ecological integrity for the Huanghe (Yellow River) Estuary and its adjacent areas are practically significant and valuable. However, frequent human activities and natural climate changes have caused vigorous disturbances on the ecosystem in these sea areas. An objective assessment on the benthic habitat quality (BHQ) of the Huanghe Estuary and its adjacent areas is conducted, using AZTI’s Marine Biotic Index (AMBI) and multivariate AMBI (M-AMBI) based on the data of macrobenthos in May and August 2011. The results show that both the indices do not correlate significantly, and their assessment results are greatly different. All of the samples assessed using the AMBI were “high” or “good”, because the ecological group I (EGI) and the ecological group II (EGII) were dominant macrobenthic ecological groups in the research area. Owing to a low species’ richness and a high individual abundance in some samples, the BHQ levels using the M-AMBI were worse than those of the AMBI. Significant correlations are observed between the M-AMBI, water depth, bottom water salinity and dissolved inorganic nitrogen, thus the M-AMBI could sensitively respond to environmental changes and distinguish influences from uninfluenced stations, but the AMBI could not. The consistent results between the AMBI and the M-AMBI mainly appeared in the uninfluenced (undisturbed or slightly disturbed) stations. Therefore, the M-AMBI is more effective than the AMBI in assessing the benthic habitat quality in the Huanghe Estuary and its adjacent areas. Using the M-AMBI to assess the BHQ of the Huanghe Estuary and its adjacent areas, the results show that 3% of the stations are undisturbed and the BHQs are “high”, and 61% of the stations are slightly disturbed and those of the BHQ are “good”, and the rest are meanly disturbed and those of the BHQ are “moderate”.

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