Chesapeake Bay Benthic Monitoring Program

 Home   Up    Benthos in Estuaries    Why Monitor Benthos   Benthic Habitat Monitoring   Benthic Health   Species List   Glossary 
______________________/\_________________________________________________________________________________________________


How Do Benthos Affect Estuaries?

Benthic organisms are important in the ecology of estuaries both as consumers of plankton and as food for bottom feeding fish. They provide key linkages between primary producers and higher trophic levels in estuarine food chains. Some are economically important in their own right.

Benthic organisms as consumers: Many clams and oysters feed on plankton in the water column, effectively removing materials from the water. Calculations indicate that the entire volume of water overlying shallow areas in the Bay may be filtered once every two or three days.

Benthic organisms as prey: Polychaete worms and shrimp-like crustaceans contribute significantly to the diets of commercially important bottom-feeding fishes, such as Spot and Croaker. Amphipods are the preferred food of Striped Bass, while clams and snail-like gastropods are often eaten by Blue Crabs. Benthic organisms may represent the largest standing stock of organic carbon in estuaries.

Benthic fisheries: Oysters, Blue Crabs, and many types of clams are gathered by humans and, therefore, are important commercially and recreationally. Some clams and shrimp are also raised in farms for human consumption.

 

CIMS
Home
Methods and
Monitoring
Results
What are
Benthos?
History Reports and
Other Documents
Data
Sets
Related
Information
LTB
Home
Credits

URL http://esm.versar.com/vcb/benthos/benthos/howdo.htm

Revised: March 20, 2003.