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19 - The Benthic Animal Communities of the Tidal-Freshwater Hudson River Estuary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 January 2010

David L. Strayer
Affiliation:
Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Jeffrey S. Levinton
Affiliation:
State University of New York, Stony Brook
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Summary

abstract Benthic animals (those that live in or on sediments or vegetation) are of key importance in the Hudson River ecosystem. They are the major source of food to the Hudson's fish and regulate the abundance and composition of phytoplankton in the river. Benthic animals probably are important in mixing sediments, an activity that may affect the movement and ultimate fate of toxins in the river, although this process is not well studied in the Hudson. The benthic animal community of the Hudson is diverse, containing several hundred species of worms, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, and other invertebrates. These animals represent a wide array of life histories, feeding types, distributions, and adaptations. Community structure and population density vary greatly from place to place in the Hudson, and are determined chiefly by salinity, the presence of rooted plants, and the nature of the sediment (hard vs. soft). Nevertheless, a great deal of site-to-site variation in benthic community structure in the Hudson and other large rivers is unexplained. Human activities (especially water pollution and alteration of the channel for navigation) probably had large effects on the benthic communities of the Hudson, but these effects have not been well documented. The recent invasion of the Hudson by the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) profoundly changed the benthic communities of the river, altering their composition and function in the ecosystem.

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The Hudson River Estuary , pp. 266 - 278
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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