Jackson Estuarine Laboratory

Long-term structure, disturbance, and recolonization of macroinfauna in a New Hampshire sand beach


The southern portion of Foss Beach, New Hampshire, was totally eroded of sand during the second quarter of 1977. Long-term community data from the beach since 1971 served as background for studying recolonization by burrowing invertebrates after redeposition of sand. About 2 years were required for the beach to regain much of its sand, and another year passed before a complete coverage of sand was long lasting. Twenty-five species of macroinfauna were recorded from the beach during a 13-year period, seven of these only from the postdisturbance beach. The polychaetes Scolelepis squamata and Paraonis fulgens, and the amphipods Acanthohaustorius millsi and Amphiporeia virginiana, were the most abundant species. The numbers of species and abundances of polychaetes were the primary influences on the pattern of variation of the total macroinfauna before disturbance. Polychaetes also dominated during early recolonization, 1.5–2 years after sand erosion, particularly species with planktonic larval stages. During this time, Capitella sp. exhibited abundances up to 10 times mean values for the predisturbance period. Four years after sand erosion, the macroinfauna had largely recovered.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Canadian Journal of Zoology

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type