Hurricane Sandy was an extraordinarily large storm that affected most of the eastern coast of the USA in October 2012. To assess this storm’s impact, the benthic invertebrate community structure and sediment properties were compared in samples collected 3.5 months prior to (July 2012) and 8 months after (July 2013) the hurricane at 97 locations in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, USA. Barnegat Bay is a shallow back-barrier estuary just north of where Sandy made landfall. For all locations taken together, sediment total nitrogen concentration was lower afterwards, while total organic carbon and total phosphorus concentrations were similar. Sediment median particle size was the same before and after, but the sediment was better sorted after the storm. There were no differences in total abundance of invertebrates, species richness, species diversity, or the abundance of polychaetes, bivalves, or gastropods. Malacostracan crustaceans were more abundant after Sandy (average 82 (0.04 m2)−1) than they were before (average 64), due almost entirely to increased abundance of ampeliscid amphipods, which showed a shift toward smaller sizes in 2013. Annelids in the order Clitellata were on average less abundant after the hurricane (17) than before (53). The apparent minimal effect of Sandy on the benthic community in Barnegat Bay was probably because the passage of the hurricane had no detectable effects on salinity or dissolved oxygen concentrations throughout the bay.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science
- Barnegat Bay
- Benthic invertebrates
- Hurricane Sandy
- Sediment properties