Document Type


Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Benthos, biotic communities


Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


In 2009 the University of New Haven initiated studies to develop a contemporary database and assessment of the benthic ecology of New Haven Harbor. Previous studies were last conducted in the 1970s and 1980s (e.g. McCusker, and Bosworth 1979, 1981, Rhoads and Germano 1982). Benthic populations and communities are excellent indicators of environmental conditions and are regularly used for environmental assessment in estuarine and coastal waters (e.g. Pearson and Rosenberg 1978, Rhoads et al. 1978, Zajac and Whitlatch 2001, Mangi 2003). Given the inherent ability of the benthos to integrate sediment and water quality, many environmental indicators and indices to assess the degree and nature of environmental change have been developed based on marine macrobenthic taxa and communities (e.g. Weisberg et al. 1997, Borja et al. 2000). Our findings have been reported to the Quinnipiac River Fund Board (Zajac and Brown 2012), and also have been presented at the Biennial Long Island Sound Research Conference that was held at the end of October 2010, and at national and regional meetings in 2011. Briefly, these studies showed that there are a diverse set of benthic (seafloor) habitats within the harbor that support a surprisingly diverse pool of species although there are areas that are impaired. Additionally, comparison to data collected in the 1980’s suggest that there has been an overall shift in the benthic community characteristics in New Haven Harbor suggesting a long-term degradation due to the presence / increased abundance of organisms that are typical under disturbed conditions.


Posted with permission of the Quinnipiac River Fund.

Publisher Citation

Zajac, R., McCarthy, A. (2015) Drift algae in New Haven Harbor and impacts on benthic communities. Report to the Quinnipiac River Fund, New Haven Foundation.