Changes in benthos following the clean-up of a severely metal-polluted cove in the Hudson River estuary: Environmental restoration or ecological disturbance?

Estuarine Research Federation
Publication Type:
Journal Article
ESTUARIES, 2003, 26 pp. 1505 - 1516
Issue Date:
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We studied changes in macrobenthic communities following the environmental clean-up of metal-polluted (cadmium, nickel, and cobalt) sediments in Foundry Cove, a small inlet within the Hudson River estuary of New York. We used a BACI-style experiment to test the hypotheses that high levels of cadmium in sediments change macrobenthic assemblages relative to unpolluted areas, and removal of metals (especially cadmium) by dredging will restore the benthos, such that benthic fauna in Foundry Cove are not different from unpolluted areas. In 1984, prior to the restoration work, there were no significant differneces between macrobenthic assemblages in polluted and unpolluted locations, indicating that cadmium had little effect on community structure. The lack of an observed toxicity effect may have been caused by the compensatory evolution of resistance to cadmium in dominant organisms. Six years after the restoration work and despite a substantial reduction in metal pollution, there were lower abundances of oligochaetes, nematodes, and chironomids and a higher abundance of polychaetes at Foundry Cove relative to reference locations. Correlative analyses identified greater sediment compaction caused by dredging at Foundry, Cove as a possible cause of faunal differences.
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