Recently, several monitoring programmes have been undertaken to evaluate the impact of different anthropogenic activities, upon a range of coastal ecosystems located in the South-western Atlantic. In the present contribution, the applicability of the AZTI's Marine Biotic Index (AMBI) is tested, to establish the benthic health of the ecosystem using these data sets. As the AMBI was created previously for use in European estuarine and coastal environments, its general applicability to new geographical locations is discussed. In general, the results are in agreement with those obtained using traditional univariate and multivariate methods. Some inconsistent results are observed, when low abundances and/or number of taxa are recorded in the samples. Moreover, when the macrofauna samples are dominated by large nematodes, the classification of the benthic ecosystem health using AMBI is not consistent with previous results achieved applying other statistical techniques. Thus, parallel to the application of this index to a wider extend, the complementary use of different indices and/or methods is recommended to assess confidently the environmental quality of a coastal area. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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