Diversity and spatial distribution patterns of the benthic macrofauna communities in the southeast the Caspian Sea (Golestan Province– Iran) in relation to environmental conditions

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Gorgan University of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources

2 Ecological Research Center of the Caspian Sea, Iranian Fisheries Science Research Institute, Agricultural Research Education and Extension Organization

3 Iranian Fisheries Research Organization (IFRO), InlandWaters Fisheries Research of Gorgan

4 Department of Wildlife, Fish, & Environmental studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences


Biodiversity and structure of the benthic macrofauna communities were studied in the southeast the Caspian Sea (Golestan Province – Iran) during one year from October 2014 to September 2015. Seasonal samplings were done at 6 stations in 3 transects. Depth, temperature, salinity, pH, E.C., total organic matter and grain size were measured. More than 4,037 individuals belonging to five orders, Polychaeta, Oligochaeta, Bivalvia, Diptera and Amphipoda, and eight families including Nereididae, Spionidae, Amphartidae, Tubificidae, Smelidae, Cardiidae, Chironomidae and Gammaridae were identified. In terms of total individuals, Streblospio gynobranchiata, Hypania invalida and Cerastoderma lamarcki, were the most abundant species, and Polychaeta were dominant in the research region. The highest density of all species was observed in autumn (1515 ind m2-) and the lowest was observed in summer (698 ind m2-). The maximum diversity, richness, and evenness were 1.36, 0.6 and 0.98, respectively. The results of distance-based redundancy analysis (db-RDA) showed that environmental factors such as salinity, depth and substrate type were all important in detecting the distribution pattern of macrobenthic species in the research region. The dominant species, S. gynobranchiata, was distributed in the areas with smaller grain size and higher TOM and muddy sediments and had the most correlation with salinity, temperature, pH and E.C. Species such as T. fraseri. H. invalida and P. robustoides showed more dependency on TOM and mud factors in the spring and summer, while their dependency became lower in autumn and winter. Abra ovate was less influenced by all factors except the substrate.