International Journal of Environmental Research

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 861–875 | Cite as

Impact of Natural and Anthropogenic Disturbances on the Benthic Ecological Quality of the Coastal Waters of Kochi, Southwest Coast of India

  • Sura Appala NaiduEmail author
  • Gijjapu Durga Rao
  • Kanuri Vishnu Vardhan
  • Munnooru Kumaraswami
  • Vinjamuri Ranga Rao
  • Karri Ramu
Research Paper


This study aimed at assessing the seasonal, spatial macrobenthic community structure and the impact of natural, anthropogenic effects on the benthic ecological quality of the coastal waters of Kochi, southwest coast of India. The benthic community exhibited high diversity, and species richness during the winter monsoon (WM) and spring inter-monsoon (SIM) than the southwest monsoon (SWM) season. The factors contributing to such temporal variation are the stable water column, downward flux of the surface production and recruitment process of species during the WM and SIM. The occurrence of coastal upwelling during the SWM leads to high biological production, followed by degradation of organic matter in the water column and ultimately leading to depleted oxygen levels in the coastal waters. The presence of polychaetes such as Paraprionospio pinnata, Paraprionospio sp., Magelona cincta, Heteromastus sp., Notomastus sp., Lumbrineris sp., Chaetozone sp. and Tharyx sp., in large numbers during the SWM demonstrates that they can withstand oxygen-depleted waters. High macrobenthic abundance and diversity were noticed in the mid shelf region than in the inner shelf region throughout the study period. Overall, the dominant deposit feeding type of species M. cincta, P. pinnata., Heteromastus sp. contributed ~ 83% and carnivores ~ 16% (Goniadae sp., Syllis sp., and Lumbrineris sp.), whereas only ~ 1% were filter feeders and omnivores in the study region. The low macrobenthic population in the inner shelf could be due to the high physical stress, intense fishing activities and quality of organic matter. The low BENTIX Index (mean ~ 3.5) in the inner shelf region and high in the mid shelf (mean ~ 4.2) region reveals that the inner shelf waters of Kochi are “moderate” and the mid shelf waters are “good” in terms of benthic ecological quality.

Graphical Abstract


Polychaetes Hypoxic waters Organic matter BENTIX Index Southwest coast of India 



The authors thank the Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India and Director, NCCR, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India for the financial support and facilities during the study period. We also thank Dr. Nomiki Simboura, Senior Biological Oceanographer, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Institute of Oceanography, Greece for her assistance in calculation of BENTIX. We acknowledge Dr. V. V. S. S. Sarma, Senior Principal Scientist, CSIR-NIO for providing Elemental Analyzer for SOM analysis. Thanks also to Drs. M. Wafar and M. S. Krishna, for their suggestions on the earlier draft.

Supplementary material

41742_2018_140_MOESM1_ESM.doc (489 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 489 kb)


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Copyright information

© University of Tehran 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sura Appala Naidu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gijjapu Durga Rao
    • 1
  • Kanuri Vishnu Vardhan
    • 1
  • Munnooru Kumaraswami
    • 1
  • Vinjamuri Ranga Rao
    • 1
  • Karri Ramu
    • 1
  1. 1.National Centre for Coastal Research, NIOT CampusChennaiIndia

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