[Annelida] Shannon-Wiener index for Polychaeta?

JAMES A. BLAKE jablake at ix.netcom.com
Sat Apr 22 12:34:37 EST 2006

Dear Barbara,

You recently posted an inquiry about the application of the Shannon-Wiener
Index in evaluating polychaete data.  Since our benthic group uses this
index and other techniques routinely in our work, I refer you and other
polychaete workers with an interest in benthic ecology to: 


Here you will find the www site for the Environmental Quality Department of
the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). MWRA has been managing
a long-term monitoring effort to document the recovery of Boston Harbor
following different stages of sewage abatement as well monitoring the
offshore habitats in Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay for possible
impacts due to the diversion of secondarily treated sewage from Boston
Harbor to a new outfall in Massachusetts Bay. For Massachusetts Bay, there
are many years of baseline data that preceed the outfall diversion in
September of 2000. A wide range of studies dealing with the water column,
fisheries, and benthos are included together with a special benthic flux
program.  The Boston Harbor benthic infaunal program includes 15 years of
monitoring; the Mass Bay Program now includes 14 years. Recent synthesis
reports are available as part of the MWRA Technical Report series, most are
available as PDFs for download from this site. My ENSR team has been
managing the benthic monitoring for this program for the majority of the
years included.  Recent benthic synthesis reports have been led by Nancy
Maciolek and you will find good information on the application of different
diversity indices in these reports.  As you will find, diversity indices
generally fall into different categories such as:

Species richness indices--e.g., Sanders-Hurlbert rarefaction (ESn)
Indices based on the proportional abundances of species--e.g., Shannon
index H' (base 2)
Species abundance indices--e.g., Fisher's log-series alpha

Which index or indices you choose should be determined by what questions
are being asked or which hypotheses are being tested. Strengths and
weaknesses of these indices and others can be found in these reports.

As an aside for the biodiversity and census of marine life folks, we have
found the following:

No. Species limited to Boston Harbor: 78
No. Species limited to Mass/Cape Cod Bay: 293
No. Species shared between Harbor and Bay: 174
Total No. Species recorded through 2005 in Boston Harbor & Mass/Cape Cod
Bay: 545 (~1160 samples)
About 45% of these are polychaetes; species lists are included in the
Individual samples are 0.04 m2 and sieved over a 300-um sieve.

Good luck in your work.

Jim Blake 

> [Original Message]
> From: Barbara Mikac <barbara.mikac at cim.irb.hr>
> To: <annelida at magpie.bio.indiana.edu>
> Date: 4/10/2006 3:30:43 PM
> Subject: [Annelida] Shannon-Wiener index for Polychaeta?
> Dear collegues,
> Can anyone help me with the interpretation of the Shannon-Wiener 
> diversity indexes for Polychaeta fauna (on the detritic bottom in the 
> north Adriatic Sea)?
> I was triing to find some table with the meaning of the certain H' range 
> for Polychaeta, but I wasn't very successfull.
> Thank you very much!
> Barbara Mikac
> Marine Research Centre
> Rudjer Boskovic Institute
> G. Paliaga 5
> 52210 Rovinj
> Croatia
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