BULL-RAKING EFFECTS ON INFAUNAL BENTHIC COMMUNITIES
Bull raking is the predominant method to harvest the quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria) in Narragansett Bay. Although quahog harvesting is a profitable industry, little is known about its potential impacts on the benthic communities of the Bay. To investigate impacts on quahog harvesting, a study was undertaken to monitor changes in benthic infauna associated with a substrate disturbance similar to one generated by a bull rake. Divers collected benthic sediment samples from two substrates, hard and soft, that had been disturbed. In each substrate area, core samples of sediment were taken from a bull raked area and a non-bull-raked control area. Sampling was performed daily for a week after the bull raking occurred and then once a week during the following three weeks. Benthic organisms were identified and enumerated from replicated samples collected at each time point and location. Changes in the benthic community were compared between disturbed and control plots in the two substrate types. This process helps identify potential community disruption from the harvesting technique, bull raking, and how long it takes for infaunal species to return to an area once it has been disturbed by bull-raking.