The influence of environmental factors on the abundance and temporal variation of benthic fauna resources was studied in the eutrophic Tha Chin estuary located in Samut Sakhon province. The objectives were to analyze the status of abundance and temporal variation of the benthic fauna and to clarify the impacts from environmental factors (water and sediment quality). Field surveys were conducted monthly from August 2007 to March 2008 at 11 sampling stations in the estuary. Based on freshwater runoff volumes, the high-, medium-, and low-loading periods were categorized to be from August to October 2007, November to December 2007, and January to March 2008, respectively. The benthic fauna resources were composed of 57 species in eight phyla. Annelids were the dominant species (with the maximum density being 19,885 individuals/m2), followed by the mollusks. Both densities decreased during the low-loading period in 2008. Water quality deteriorated during the high-loading period. Land-based wastewater discharges decreased the levels of salinity and dissolved oxygen but dramatically increased various nutrients. Consequently, the sediment quality deteriorated during the medium-loading period. Bottom deposits during this time depicted high accumulation of acid volatile sulfides (more than 0.76 mg/g dry weight). Analyzing the environmental relationships, deposit feeders (for example, Nereis sp. and Prionospio sp.) and a clam (Arcuatula sp.) showed potential as bio-indicators for environmental monitoring. The overall results revealed the importance of changes in the water and sediment qualities that had an influence on related benthic resources. The increase in the level of NH4+-N had a negative impact on the economic clam species, while the sedimentary TOM showed positive correlation (P < 0.05) with this increase. The succession of groups based on feeding behavior seemed to correspond with stress in eutrophication along the salinity gradient and in different estuarine parts. In addition, the economic clam population decreased noticeably during the medium-loading period, as a consequence of deteriorated sediment conditions. Thus, the land-based runoff should be controlled for the protection of resources. Further effective sustainable management will be enhanced by giving serious consideration to an eco-based zoning scheme for conservation and restoration of the Tha Chin estuary.

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