, Volume 100, Issue 1, pp 31-40

Differential response of benthic macrofauna and meiofauna to hypoxia in the Gullmar Fjord basin

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Abstract

The response of benthic macro-and meiofauna to severe hypoxia was studied in the deep basis (115 m) of Gullmar Fjord, western Sweden. Abundances and bionasses of the faunal taxa, the redox-potential of the sediment, and the temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen in the bottom water were recorded over the period 1977 to 1981. In the winter of 1979/80, when a depressed oxygen level of 0.21 ml l-1 was recorded, the macrofaunal component of the fauna disappeared. The ensuing recolonization, with an initial peak of opportunistic capitellid polychaetes, proceeded slowly and the pre-collapse community was not reestablished within 1 1/2 yr after the hypoxia. In contrast, the permanent meiofauna exhibited no clear signs of being affected by the hypoxia. In the temporary meiofauna, polychaetes seemed to be negatively affected. The finding of a differential response of macro-and meiofauna confirms previous studies which indicate that macrofauna in general is more sensitive than meiofauna to low oxygen concentrations.

Communicated by T. Fenchel, Helsingør