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This study investigated whether associated meiobenthic communities, especially harpacticoid copepods, differed amongst habitats. Five pre-defined habitats within and next to the Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadow were sampled: living seagrass canopy leaves (LL), small (SMF) and large (LMF) macrophytodetritus fragment accumulations and sand, bare (BS) and covered (CS). The highest meiofauna abundances were recorded in the BS for the core sampled habitats (BS, CS, SMF and LMF) and in the LMF for seagrass material habitats (SMF, LMF and LL). Harpacticoid copepods were the most abundant taxon in all habitats. The assemblage composition at copepod family level showed two distinct habitats clusters: a leaf (LMF and LL) and a sediment cluster (BS, CS and SMF). Subsequently, stable isotope analyses were conducted to analyse the relationship between copepods and their potential food sources in seagrass material habitats. Based on δ13C isotopic analyses and SIAR mixing model, harpacticoid copepods relied for 70% on epiphytes and for 30% on P. oceanica leaf material in the LMF and LL habitats.
The present study reports on a range extension of the suctorian species Praethecacineta halacari to the region of He-Ping-Dao, north-east of Taiwan (West Pacific Ocean), Matemwe, the east coast of Unguja, Zanzibar, Tanzania (West Indian Ocean) and Nova Scotia, Canada (West Atlantic Ocean). Praethecacineta halacari is reported here for the first time from Taiwan, Tanzania and Canada. Earlier records include the Caspian Sea, Western Australia, Brazil, India, and various coastal sites in Europe.
The spatial diversity of meiofauna from sea grass beds of Pujada Bay (the Philippines), was studied with special emphasis on harpacticoid copepods. Sediment cores were obtained from areas adjacent to the different species of sea grasses. Meiofauna was enumerated at higher taxon level and harpacticoid copepods were identified to genus level. Diversity indices were calculated corresponding to the hierarchical levels of spatial biodiversity, i.e. alpha, beta and gamma. Nematodes were the most abundant meiofaunal group in all sediment layers and along the entire tidal gradient (37–92%); harpacticoids were second in abundance (3.0–40.6%) but highly diverse (N0: 9.33–15.5) at the uppermost sediment layer (0–1 cm) near all beds of sea grass species. There was a sharp turnover of harpacticoid genera along the tidal gradient, thus suggesting a relatively low proportion of shared genera among benthic communities in different sea grass zones. The families of Tetragonicipitidae and Miraciidae were the dominant harpacticoid groups occurring in all sediment layers of all sea grass species. The presence of the epiphytic genera of Metis at the deepest sediment layers in some sea grass species was striking. Overall, the major contributor to gamma (total) diversity of harpacticoid copepods in Pujada Bay is the high local (alpha) diversity (N0: 80.6%, H′: 94.7% of total diversity); hence, the habitat heterogeneity among sediment layers in sea grass beds is most relevant for the total diversity and richness of harpacticoid copepod genera in the area.
During an intensive meiofauna sampling campaign in intertidal seagrass beds along the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), 131 specimens of Lightiella incisa (Cephalocarida, Crustacea) were recovered from the sediment. Two-thirds of the specimens were adults, one-third were pre-adults. This collection is the first record of this minute primitive crustacean in the western part of the Caribbean Sea, and extends the known range 3000 km from the type locality of Hastings Bay, Barbados. A detailed sampling protocol and environmental data made it possible to study the microhabitat preferences of this species, and perhaps for cephalocarids in general for the first time. The vertical distribution of L. incisa in the sediment showed a maximum density in deeper layers, i.e. 3–4 and 4–5 cm depth. Nitrate and nitrite concentrations seem to be most closely related to the distribution of L. incisa. It was clear that L. incisa followed polychaetes to deeper sediment layers. In this study we state that L. incisa is an endobenthic species occupying anoxic sediments oxygenated by bioturbation (e.g. Polychaeta) rather than being an animal living in the oxygenated top layers.
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