Benthic molluscan communities and environmental study of the Cape Romain tidal inlet complex, South Carolina



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Several physical environmental parameters and the benthic molluscan communities have been analyzed in the Cape Romain tidal inlet complex, South Carolina. A base-line study was made to monitor the effects of rediverting the Santee River on the Cape Romain tidal inlet complex and to develop a model to predict the possible effects of the Santee River rediversion on the existing benthic molluscan communities. Cape Romain Harbor and Casino Creek were found to have predominantly fine-grained substrates. Salinities ranged from 33[degrees]/oo - 0.8[degrees]/oo with low salinity values reflecting periods of high freshwater influx from the Santee River via the intracoastal waterway. Four benthic molluscan communities were determined using Simpson's Binary Similarity Coefficient and are: 1) near-marine, Mulinia lateralis-Tellina alternata community; 2) estuarine Mulinia lateralis-Acteocina canaliculate community; 3) estuarine Mulinia lateralis-Ilyanassa obsoleta community; 4) high energy, estuarine, Mulinia lateralis-Abra aequalis community. Comparison of the community gradation in structure and composition, determined by Prim Network analysis, with present environmental controls on the benthic molluscan communities indicates that rediversion will reduce the number of species presently existing in the Cape Romain tidal inlet complex by approximately 40%.