, Volume 209, Issue 1, pp 13-27

The nematode fauna of a temperate Australian mangrove mudflat; its population density, diversity and distribution

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Abstract

The nematode fauna of an estuarine mangrove Avicennia marina mudflat in Southeastern Australia has been intensively studied. About 85% of the nematodes occur in the top cm of soft mud, but 5–7 species inhabit the deeper anoxic mud down to 10 cm, both at low and high tide. One square metre was intensively sampled from four zones with different nematode faunas. At the low tide zone 58% of the nematodes were epistrate feeders, including many diatom-feeders, but in the mangrove zone selective microbial feeders made up over 60% of the population, while between high water neap and high water spring, above the mangrove zone, omnivore/predators and plant root feeding nematodes increased in relative importance. Random replicate cores reliably sampled species occurrence, but gave a high variance in density estimates. Replicate aliquots from homogenised mud gave lower density variance. Nematode densities (maximum 5 × 106 m-2) were not as high as have been reported from non-mangrove estuaries in other countries, but were within the range found in mangroves elsewhere in Australia. Margalef Species Richness values ranged from 1.7 to 3.89, which is similar to values found in other mangroves mudflats in Australia. Nematode biomass ranged from 888 mg dry weight m2 (383 mg C m-2) at the low tide zone to 19 mg dry weight m-2 (8 mg C m-2) at the upper tide level.