National Park Service

South Florida/Caribbean I&M Network (SFCN)

Marine Infaunal Community Monitoring

A clam


The SFCN marine infaunal monitoring protocol development is deferred due to insufficient funding.

Resource Briefs, Reports, and Data

There are currently no SFCN resource briefs, reports, or data concerning this monitoring topic.


Infaunal benthic communities include bivalves (clams), worms (polychaetes and oligochaetes), amphipod crustaceans, insect larvae, etc., that live within the marine substrate, in other words, these are the tiny critters that live in the mud on the sea floor. They are heavily preyed upon by crabs and fish. Community composition and structure differ with habitat, salinity, and dissolved oxygen. Community composition is sensitive to changes in water quality, particularly contaminants (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals), changing salinity, and dissolved oxygen (related to nutrient and organics enrichment). Infaunal benthic communities are indicators of overall estuarine health in FL Bay and Biscayne Bay, and can be valuable indicators in ecotonal areas or areas of suspected contaminant input. They respond to the general water quality and contaminant levels at a site through time. A South Florida index for biological integrity has yet to be developed.

Monitoring Objectives

What are the status and trends in the distribution and abundance of important indicators and keystone organisms, especially with respect to salinity and nutrient gradients?


Unfortunately this vital sign has been deferred due to insufficient funds.

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Last Updated: February 16, 2017 Contact Webmaster