eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
Estonian Journal of Ecology
Water salinity and benthic macrophyte communities are the key variables defining the distribution pattern of benthic faunal assemblages in the shallow water areas of the Gulf of Riga; pp. 107–120
PDF | doi: 10.3176/eco.2013.2.03

Jonne Kotta

The distribution of shallow water macrozoobenthic assemblages of the Gulf of Riga is analysed in relation to water current velocity, salinity, sediment type, ice disturbance, eutrophication, and benthic macrophytes. Salinity and benthic macrophyte communities described most of the variability in both the abundance and biomass structure of benthic invertebrates. In addition, surface chlorophyll a also contributed to the variability of benthic invertebrate biomass. Benthic invertebrate assemblages in the vicinity of the Daugava and Pärnu rivers experience higher nutrient loading and were therefore characterized by a lower species number and higher biomass of benthic suspension feeders. Benthic invertebrate communities in other regions of the Gulf of Riga were typical for the mildly disturbed areas of the northern Baltic Sea. Compared to the situation in the 1960s, no substantial increase in the abundance and biomass values of macrozoobenthos was observed as could be expected from the basinwide trend of increasing eutrophication.


Bendtsen, J., Gustafsson, K. E., Söderkvist, J. & Hansen, J. L. S. 2009. Ventilation of bottom water in the North Sea–Baltic Sea transition zone. Journal of Marine Systems, 75, 138–149.

Bonsdorff, E. & Pearson, T. H. 1999. Variation in the sublittoral macrozoobenthos of the Baltic Sea along environmental gradients; a functional-group approach. Australian Journal of Ecology, 24, 312–326.

Clarke, K. R. 1993. Non-parametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure. Australian Journal of Ecology, 18, 117–143.

Clarke, K. R. & Gorley, R. N. 2006. Primer v6. User Manual/Tutorial. Primer-E, Plymouth.

Clarke, K. R. & Green, R. H. 1988. Statistical design and analysis for a ‘biological effects’ study. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 46, 213–226.

Elmgren, R. & Ganning, B. 1974. Ecological studies of two shallow brackish water ecosystem. Contribution from the Askö Laboratory, University of Stockholm, Sweden, 6, 1–56.

HELCOM. 1993. First assessment of the state of the coastal waters of the Baltic Sea. Baltic Sea Environment Proceedings, 54, 1–160.

Hiscock, K. & Hoare, R. 1973. A portable suction sampler for rock epibiota. Helgoländer wissenshaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen, 25, 35–38.

Janke, K. 2006. Biological interactions and their role in community structure in the rocky intertidal of Helgoland (German Bight, North Sea). Helgoländer Marine Research, 44, 219–263.

Järvekülg, A. 1961. Mõnede bentiliste ja nektobentiliste selgrootute levikust Riia lahe kirdeosas. Eesti NSV TA Toimetised. Bioloogia, 10, 214–230.

Järvekülg, A. 1962. Põhjaloomastiku varudest Riia lahe kirdeosas. Kalatööstus, 1, 48–52.

Järvekülg, A. 1979. Benthic Fauna in the Eastern Part of the Baltic Sea. Valgus, Tallinn (in Russian).

Kangas, P. 1972. Quantitative sampling equipment for the littoral benthos. II. IBP i Norden, 10,

Kautsky, H. & Van der Maarel, E. 1990. Multivariate approaches to the variation in phytobenthic communities and environmental vectors in the Baltic Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 60, 169–184.

Kautsky, H., Martin, G., Mäkinen, A., Borgiel, M., Vahteri, P. & Rissanen, J. 1999. Structure of phytobenthic and associated animal communities in the Gulf of Riga. Hydrobiologia, 393, 191–200.

Kotta, I. & Kotta, J. 1997. Changes in zoobenthic communities in Estonian waters between the 1970’s and 1990’s. An example from the southern coast of Saaremaa and Muuga Bay. In Proceedings of the 14th Baltic Marine Biologists Symposium (Ojaveer, E., ed.), pp. 70–79. Estonian Academy Publishers, Tallinn.

Kotta, J. & Kotta, I. 1995. The state of macrobenthos of Pärnu Bay in 1991 as compared to 1959–1960. Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. Ecology, 5, 26–37.

Kotta, J. & Orav, H. 2001. Role of benthic macroalgae in regulating macrozoobenthic assemblages in the Väinameri (north-eastern Baltic Sea). Annales Zoologici Fennici, 38, 163–171.

Kotta, J., Lauringson, V. & Kotta, I. 2007. Response of zoobenthic communities to changing eutrophication in the northern Baltic Sea. Hydrobiologia, 580, 97–108.

Kotta, J., Lauringson, V., Martin, G., Simm, M., Kotta, I., Herkül, K. & Ojaveer, H. 2008. Gulf of Riga and Pärnu Bay. In Ecology of Baltic Coastal Waters (Schiewer, U., ed.), pp. 217–243. Ecological Studies, 197. Springer.

Kotta, J., Herkül, K., Kotta, I., Orav-Kotta, H. & Lauringson, V. 2009a. Effects of the suspension feeding mussel Mytilus trossulus on a brackish water macroalgal and associated invertebrate community. Marine Ecology, 30, 56–64.

Kotta, J., Kotta, I., Simm, M. & Põllupüü, M. 2009b. Separate and interactive effects of eutrophication and climate variables on the ecosystem elements of the Gulf of Riga. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 84, 509–518.

Kotta, J., Lauringson, V., Kaasik, A. & Kotta, I. 2012. Defining the coastal water quality in Estonia based on benthic invertebrate communities. Estonian Journal of Ecology, 61, 86–105.

Lagzdiņš, G. S. 1975. Benthic fauna in the Gulf of Riga as the indicator of pollution. In Fundamentals of Bioproductivity of the Inner Water Bodies of the Baltic Region. Proceedings of XVIII Scientific Conference of the Research of the Inner Waterbodies of the Baltic States (Virbitskas, Yu., Krotas, R. & Manyukas, I., eds.), pp. 429–430. Institute of Zoology and Parasitology, Academy of Sciences of Lithuanian SSR (in Russian).

Laine, A. O., Andersin, A.-B., Leiniö, S. & Zuur, A. F. 2007. Stratification-induced hypoxia as a structuring factor of macrozoobenthos in the open Gulf of Finland (Baltic Sea). Journal of Sea Research, 57, 65–77.

Leppäkoski, E. 1975. Assessment of degree of pollution on the basis of macrozoobenthos in marine and brackish-water environments. Acta Academiae Aboensis. Series B Mathematica et Physica, 35, 1–90.

Ojaveer, H. 1997. Composition and dynamics of fish stocks in the Gulf of Riga ecosystem. Dissertationes Biologicae Universitatis Tartuensis, 31, 1–138.

Orav, H., Kotta, J. & Martin, G. 2000. Factors affecting the distribution of benthic invertebrates in the phytal zone of the north-eastern Baltic Sea. Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. Biology. Ecology, 49, 253–269.

Orav-Kotta, H. & Kotta, J. 2004. Food and habitat choice of the isopod Idotea baltica in the northeastern Baltic Sea. Hydrobiologia, 514, 79–85.

Shurin, A. T. 1953. Benthic fauna of the Gulf of Riga. Trudy Latviiskogo Otdeleniya VNIRO, 1,
77–113 (in Russian).

Shurin, A. T. 1960. Benthic fauna of the Gulf of Riga and its dispersion patterns. Trudy VNIRO, 42, 37–60 (in Russian).

Shurin, A. T. 1961. Assemblages of benthic fauna in the Gulf of Riga. Trudy NIIRH SNH Latviiskogo SSR, 3, 343–368 (in Russian).

Skult, P. 1977. Composition of phytal macrofauna communities on transects extending seawards from Helsinki. Memoranda Societatis pro Fauna et Flora Fennica, 53, 43–56.

Sokal, R. R. & Rohlf, F. J. 1981. Biometry. The Principles and Practice of Statistics in Biological Research. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, California.

Suursaar, Ü. 1995. Nutrients in the Gulf of Riga. In Ecosystem of the Gulf of Riga Between
1920 and 1990 (Ojaveer, E., ed.), pp. 41–50. Academia, 5. Estonian Academy Publishers, Tallinn.

Terlizzi, A. & Schiel, D. R. 2009. Patterns along environmental gradients. In Marine Hard Bottom Communities (Wahl, M., ed.), pp. 101–112. Ecological Studies, 206. Springer, Heidelberg.

Torn, K., Martin, G., Kotta, J. & Kupp, M. 2010. Effects of different types of mechanical disturbances on a charophyte dominated macrophyte community. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 87, 27–32.

Back to Issue

Back issues