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Helgoland Marine Research

Open Access

Effects of domestic and industrial pollution on distribution and abundance of aquatic oligochaetes in the Forth estuary

  • D. S. McLusky1,
  • M. Teare1 and
  • P. Phizacklea1
Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen33:BF02414763


The Forth estuary is a major estuary on the east coast of Scotland; it receives effluent from domestic and industrial (petro-chemical and distilling) sources. Following a study on the distribution of the macrofauna of the intertidal areas in relation to pollution (McLusky et al., 1978), this paper is concerned with the distribution and abundance of aquatic oligochaetes and the small polychaeteManayunkia aestuarina in relation to estuarine salinity, organic enrichment, and industrial effluent. In the most polluted parts of the estuary oligochaetes are the sole inhabitants of the mudflats; in other less polluted flats they are very abundant. In the least polluted parts the numbers of oligochaetes diminish as the numbers and diversity of macrofauna increase. Estimates of the production of oligochaetes are given.