, Volume 71, Issue 4, pp 564-567

Differences in microhabitat, abundance, biomass and body size between oxybiotic and thiobiotic free-living marine nematodes

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Summary

Analysis of samples from a 15 m deep sandy bottom in the northern part of Øresund, Denmark shows that the nematode fauna comprises 2.9 million individuals per m2 down to 20 cm depth which averages of 0.40 g organic carbon. Highest densities are found in the uppermost cm. Biomass attains its highest value at 1–2 cm depth. Three results are discussed: 1) nematodes in the uppermost cm are, on average, three times smaller than those between 1–8 cm depth (60 ng org. C vs. 200 ng org. C ind. weight); 2) a distinct abundance trough is found at 8 cm depth, which correlates with the physical space occupied by the gallery of the lugworm Arenicola marina as well as with its possibly unselective feeding on the interstitial meiofauna at that depth; 3) the thiobiotic (deeper-living) species are significantly more slender than the oxybiotic (surface-dwelling) species, suggesting surface-dependent adaptations to life in oxygen poor and sulphide rich sediments where large amounts of dissolved organic matter occur. This is in contrast to previous assumptions that the body length or body shape reflects adaptations to the physical constraints of interstitial space.