Original Article

Helgoland Marine Research

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 213-223

First online:

A method for rapid abundance estimation of semiplanktonic meiofauna

  • Werner ArmoniesAffiliated withAlfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Wattenmeerstation Sylt, 25992 List, Germany

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Many meiofaunal copepods and plathelminths enter the tidal waters at night thus exhibiting a life-style intermediate between benthic and planktonic. At the same time, ostracods may leave their interstitial dwelling and move across the sediment surface. In laboratory experiments, the percentage of plathelminth populations emerging from the sediment varied with the species, temperature, light conditions, and the dimensions of the sediment cores studied, but not with tidal level, season, ambient density of conspecifics, or the sediment composition. Therefore, the swimming activity may be utilised for extraction of semiplanktonic meiofauna provided that the extraction procedure is standardised with respect to temperature, light and core size. For free-living plathelminths from the Wadden Sea intertidal a robust standard procedure is as follows: sediment cores 1.6 cm in diameter (2 cm2 surface area) and 3 cm deep are fitted into cylindrical containers and submerged into aquaria containing filtered seawater (ambient salinity, room temperature, darkness) for 24 h. The sediment containers are then removed and the aquarian water filtered through appropriate meshes; the residue contains the emergent faunal component. For plathelminths, this procedure reduces sorting time by some 90% compared with the standard shaking–decantation method and thus makes it possible to process a high number of samples in a short time. Similar procedures may be developed for copepods and epibenthic ostracods.

Meiofauna Emergence Abundance Extraction method Spatial pattern