Original Article

Helgoland Marine Research

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 255-264

First online:

Horizontal and vertical distribution of meiofauna on sandy beaches of the North Sea (The Netherlands, Belgium, France)

  • Lech KotwickiAffiliated withInstitute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences Email author 
  • , Marleen De TrochAffiliated withBiology Department, Marine Biology Section, Ghent University
  • , Barbara Urban-MalingaAffiliated withInstitute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences
  • , Tom GheskiereAffiliated withBiology Department, Marine Biology Section, Ghent University
  • , Jan Marcin WęslawskiAffiliated withInstitute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences

Abstract

Sandy intertidal zones were analysed for the presence of meiofauna. The material was collected on six macro-tidal sandy beaches along the North Sea (The Netherlands, France, Belgium), in order to analyse the vertical and horizontal meiofaunal distribution patterns. Eleven higher meiofauna taxa (one represented by larval stage—Copepoda nauplii) were recorded. The maximum total meiofauna abundance was observed on the Dutch beach (4,295±911 ind. 10 cm−2) in the Westerschelde estuary, while the lowest values (361±128 ind. 10 cm−2) were recorded in France at the Audresselles beach. Meiofauna of the different localities consisted mainly of nematodes, harpacticoids and turbellarians. Nematodes numerically dominated all sampled stations, comprising more than 45% of the total meiofauna density. Meiofauna was mainly concentrated at the sand surface with about 70% present in the uppermost 5 cm. Meiofauna occurred across the entire intertidal zone. A clear zonation pattern in the distribution of meiofauna taxa across the beaches was observed. The present work suggests that designation of exposed sandy beaches as physically controlled (McLachlan 1988) does not explain their biological variability.

Keywords

Sandy beach Meiofauna Vertical and horizontal distribution North Sea