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The nearshore benthic environment of Lake Michigan represents a dynamic and little studied habitat. To explore the biology and response of this community to beach nourishment, Ponar samples were taken at 1.5, 3, and 6 m depths at 10 transects along the southern shore of Lake Michigan before and after beach nourishment. Forty taxa were identified, and two of these, Chaetogaster diastrophus and Nematoda, made up over 81% of all organisms collected. Shallow sites (??? 3 m) were generally dominated by C. diastrophus and Nematoda, and these sites represent communities adapted to constant wave induced sediment disturbance. Deep (6 m) sites were generally dominated by Nematoda, but fair numbers of C. diastrophus, Amphichaeta leydigi, Paracladopelma spp., and other less abundant taxa were identified. Greater diversity at deeper sites may be related to the stability resulting from reduced wave disturbance. A notable decrease in mean invertebrate density (P < 0.01) from 2001 to 2002 downdrift from the site of beach nourishment suggests that sand placement affected invertebrate populations, although a more thorough understanding of this community's response to environmental variables is required to further support this conclusion.
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The nearshore benthic invertebrate community of southern Lake Michigan and its response to beach nourishment