Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 185, Issue 3, pp 2281–2295 | Cite as

Benthic macrofaunal assemblages of the San Francisco Estuary and Delta, USA

  • Bruce Thompson
  • J. Ananda Ranasinghe
  • Sarah Lowe
  • Aroon Melwani
  • Stephen B. Weisberg


The spatial and temporal distribution of macrobenthic assemblages in the San Francisco Estuary and Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta were identified using hierarchical cluster analysis of 501 samples collected between 1994 and 2008. Five benthic assemblages were identified that were distributed primarily along the salinity gradient: (1) a polyhaline assemblage that inhabits the Central Bay, (2) a mesohaline assemblage that inhabits South Bay and San Pablo Bay, (3) a low-diversity oligohaline assemblage primarily in Suisun Bay, (4) a low-diversity sand assemblage that occurs at various locations throughout the Estuary, and (5) a tidal freshwater assemblage in the Delta. Most sites were classified within the same assemblage in different seasons and years, but a few sites switched assemblage designations in response to seasonal changes in salinity from freshwater inflows.


Benthos Macrofauna San Francisco Bay Estuary Delta 



The data used in this study were graciously provided by the institutions and agencies listed in Table 1. Funding for the analyses conducted for this paper was provided by the San Francisco Estuary Regional Monitoring Program (SFEI), the State Water Resources Control Board, and SCCWRP. We thank Michael Kellogg and Heather Peterson at City and County of San Francisco, Karen Taberski at the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, Michael Johnson at UC Davis, Karen Gehrts at California Department of Water Resources, Chris Beegan at the State Water Resources Control Board, and Steve Bay at SCCWRP for substantive discussions about these analyses and results. Benthic taxonomists Don Cadien and Larry Lovell at Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, Wayne Field at Hydrozoology, and Kathy Welch at Washington Department of Ecology assisted with taxonomic standardization. Jamie Kass at SFEI assisted with the figures, and Karlene Miller at SCCWRP assisted with manuscript edits.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Thompson
    • 1
  • J. Ananda Ranasinghe
    • 2
  • Sarah Lowe
    • 1
  • Aroon Melwani
    • 1
    • 3
  • Stephen B. Weisberg
    • 2
  1. 1.San Francisco Estuary InstituteRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Southern California Coastal Water Research ProjectCosta MesaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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