Distribution of Benthic Infaunal Communities in the Vicinity of Point Conception, California

Between 1982- 1984, soft- bottom infaunal benthic assemblages were investigated along the shelf and slopes of the Santa Maria and Santa Barbara Basins, near Pt. Conception, California. These efforts were part of a long-term study to determine possible impacts of oil and gas developments. Data analysis delineated five communities whose distribution varied with depth and location along the coast. These spatial trends corresponded better with overlying dissolved oxygen (DO) values and sediment grain size, rather than with other environmental factors. Evaluation of data from this and other subtidal studies along the west coast of North America indicates that dissolved oxygen levels below 4 mg/1 appear to have an important effect on regulating the distribution of infaunal communities.