Benthic impacts of intertidal oyster culture, with consideration of taxonomic sufficiency

Barrie M. Forrest*, Robert G. Creese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


An investigation of the impacts from elevated intertidal Pacific oyster culture in a New Zealand estuary showed enhanced sedimentation beneath culture racks compared with other sites. Seabed elevation beneath racks was generally lower than between them, suggesting that topographic patterns more likely result from a local effect of rack structures on hydrodynamic processes than from enhanced deposition. Compared with control sites, seabed sediments within the farm had a greater silt/clay and organic content, and a lower redox potential and shear strength. While a marked trend in macrofaunal species richness was not evident, species composition and dominance patterns were consistent with a disturbance gradient, with farm effects not evident 35 m from the perimeter of the racks. Of the environmental variables measured, sediment shear strength was most closely associated with the distribution and density of macrofauna, suggesting that human-induced disturbance from farming operations may have contributed to the biological patterns. To evaluate the taxonomic sufficiency needed to document impacts, aggregation to the family level based on Linnean classification was compared with an aggregation scheme based on 'general groups' identifiable with limited taxonomic expertise. Compared with species-level analyses, spatial patterns of impact were equally discernible at both aggregation levels used, provided density rather than presence/absence data were used. Once baseline conditions are established and the efficacy of taxonomic aggregation demonstrated, a 'general group' scheme provides an appropriate and increasingly relevant tool for routine monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-176
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquaculture
  • Benthic impacts
  • Estuary
  • Monitoring
  • New Zealand
  • Pacific oyster
  • Taxonomic sufficiency


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