• benthic indices;
  • benthic quality assessment;
  • China;
  • ecosystem degradation;
  • human pressures;
  • M-bAMBI;
  • pollution


In recent decades, China has undergone an impressive development, which has produced increasing human pressures including coastal degradation. Bohai Bay, located in the west of the Bohai Sea (north of China), has been affected by various human pressures, including waste water discharges, land reclamation and oil exploitation. To monitor the effects of these pressures on this ecosystem, benthic macroinvertebrates and environmental variables (dissolved oxygen, nutrients, metals, etc.) were sampled in 2009 and 2011. To assess the ecological status of the benthic communities, the AZTI Marine Biotic Index (AMBI) and multivariate-AMBI (M-AMBI) were used, including both density and biomass in the calculation. This is the first research in which M-AMBI based on biomass (M-bAMBI) is applied. Both methods showed that the nearshore areas, especially close to the Haihe and Jiyun estuaries, were affected by human pressures, with a clear gradient of decreasing impacts offshore. The ecological status as assessed using density and biomass was quite similar. Significant relationships were also found between both methods and environmental variables. The use of AMBI and M-AMBI, based upon density and biomass, in assessing the ecological status of water bodies in China seems to be promising.