Patterns of polychaete communities in relation to environmental perturbations in a subtropical wetland of Hong Kong

Ping Ping Shen, Hong Zhou, Ji Dong Gu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Benthic polychaetes in the largest intertidal mudflat of Hong Kong were analysed for potentially stressed environmental conditions from pollution. Over a two-year period, a total of 14 species were recorded with the species diversity (H(log2)) ranged from 0.54 to 2.4. The community was dominated by two large polychaetes (Neanthes glandicincta and Potamilla acuminata) and a number of small pollution tolerant species (Tharyx, Capitella capitata and Prionospio cirrifera). It was also characterized by both temporal and spatial variations in terms of abundance and species composition with the lowest species number observed at onshore Station B in August and the highest at offshore Station D in February. Two distinct polychaete communities were formed along the intertidal towards subtidal mudflat, particularly the assemblage at onshore Station B showing a significant difference from those at the other three stations (P<0.05, N=32). Results of the abundance-biomass comparison (ABC) indicated a typical impacted community at the whole study area, especially at Station B which was close to the Shenzhen River mouth and mangrove forest. The total organic carbon had a significant positive effect on the abundance of Capitella capitata (P=0.037, N=8) while sedimentary compositions were statistically related to the abundance of Potamilla acuminata, Tharyx and total abundance of polychaetes (P<0.05, N=8). In conclusion, both the polluted Shenzhen River and nearby mangrove may be responsible for the decline in species richness and diversity as well as changes in community structure. Polychaetes can be used as the appropriate indicators in habitat ecological condition assessment instead of the whole benthic community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-932
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • environmental stress
  • indicator
  • intertidal mudflat
  • polychaete
  • subtropical


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