Spatial and inter-annual variability of the macrobenthic communities within a coastal lagoon (Óbidos lagoon) and its relationship with environmental parameters

Susana Carvalho, Ana Moura, Miguel B. Gaspar*, Paula Pereira, Luís Cancela Da Fonseca, Manuela Falcão, Teresa Drago, Francisco Leitão, João Regala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The present work aims to analyse spatial and inter-annual variability in the benthic environment within the Óbidos lagoon, assessing the relationships between environmental characteristics and macrobenthic distribution patterns. Sediment samples were collected in February 2001 and 2002 for the study of macrofauna and biogeochemical parameters (sediment grain size, organic matter, organic carbon, chlorophyll a, and phaeopigments). Comparing 2001 to 2002, a general increase in the number of species, diversity and equitability indices was observed throughout the study area. Likewise, there was an increase of phytopigments and organic matter contents in the upper sediment layer. Based on the macrobenthic community patterns and environmental variables three main areas could be distinguished in both years: an outer area near the inlet mostly influenced by the sea, with very depressed number of species and abundance, and dominated by Saccocirrus papillocercus, Lekanesphaera levii, Microphthalmus similis and Nephtys cirrosa; an intermediate area located in the central part of the lagoon characterized by sandy sediment and low organic carbon, and colonized by a high diverse community with Hydrobia ulvae, Cerastoderma edule and Abra ovata as the most characteristic species; and the innermost area of the lagoon with muddy enriched sediments dominated by Heteromastus filiformis, oligochaetes, Scrobicularia plana, Cyathura carinata, Corophium acherusicum, phoronids, insect larvae and Corbula gibba. Deposit-feeders were dominant in the muddy sediments from the inner area, where suspension-feeders were also abundant. Carnivores were associated with clean sandy sediments from the inlet area and herbivores were more abundant within the central area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-159
Number of pages17
JournalActa Oecologica
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Annual variability
  • Coastal lagoons
  • Macrobenthic communities
  • NE Atlantic
  • Spatial patterns
  • Óbidos lagoon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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