Spatial patterns of sediment contamination and their influence on benthic infaunal communities in a highly tidal and industrial estuary in Atlantic Canada Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Sediment contamination can be elevated in ports, harbours, and estuaries with legacies of exploitation, negatively impacting infaunal invertebrate communities. Saint John Harbour (45.25° N, 66.05° W), New Brunswick, Canada, is an active harbour with strong tides and a long history of human activity. To examine spatial patterns of sediment contamination, samples were collected between 2011 and 2021 from subtidal sites near potential contaminant sources. Invertebrate data from the same samples were used to investigate potential effects on biological communities. Contaminant concentrations in the inner parts of the harbour were elevated compared to reference sites, but generally did not reach levels comparable to other highly contaminated harbours in the region. Effects on invertebrates were detectable, particularly at sites with higher contamination, although physical factors (depth, sediment grain size) were more important. Dynamic tidal conditions in the harbour may reduce the accumulation of contaminants in subtidal sediments and their impacts on infaunal communities.


  • Guerin, Andrew J
  • Kidd, Karen
  • Maltais, Marie-Josée
  • Mercer, Angella
  • Hunt, Heather L

publication date

  • January 2024