Alternate Title

Possible Sustained Effects of Hurricanes Opal and Erin on the Macrobenthos of Nearshore Habitats Within the Gulf Islands National Seashore

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Possible sustained effects of hurricanes Opal and Erin on the macrobenthos of nearshore habitats of the Florida district of Gulf Islands National Seashore were assessed. Pre-hurricane macrobenthic data originating mainly from a large-scale faunal inventory conducted during 1993 were compared with posthurricane data collected one year after the 1995 disturbances. Nearshore habitats examined included both exposed and protected sand beaches, as well as grassbed and lagoon sites. Within one year after the hurricanes, few faunal effects could be discerned at exposed beach sites, whereas possible faunal effects were apparent in protected nearshore habitats. Abundances of 4 major epifaunal crustacean taxa were notably lower one year after the hurricane disturbances. Assemblages of relatively stable nearshore habitats appeared to be more diverse but less resilient than assemblages of unstable nearshore habitats, possibly reflecting the extent of disturbance normally experienced by assemblages within those habitats.

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