, 554:83 | Cite as

Drifting Algae as a means of Re-Colonizing Defaunated Sediments in the Baltic Sea. A Short-Term Microcosm Study

  • Nina Larissa Arroyo
  • Katri Aarnio
  • Erik Bonsdorff


We conducted a microcosm experiment to evaluate the capability of fauna inhabiting or being transported by drifting filamentous algae to colonize defaunated sediment. We expected meiofauna would perform a quicker and more effective re-colonization of disturbed areas by means of the algal mats than their macrofaunal counterparts. Similarly, within meiofauna, we expected more mobile taxa such as ostracods and harpacticoids to colonize the sediment more readily than other more sedentary ones such as nematodes. Naturally drifting algae were collected from the field and placed in 1 l aquaria on top of 5 cm of defaunated sediment. After 3 and 6 days, one core sample (5 cm deep) was taken from each aquarium; the first 2 cm were sliced into 2 mm layers, and the remaining fraction into 1 cm layers. The sediment remaining in the aquaria was sieved through a 0.5 mm sieve to collect the re-colonizing macrofauna. The dominant macrofaunal taxa inhabiting the algae were juvenile bivalves and gastropods, with Cerastoderma glaucum accounting for the majority of the bivalves and Hydrobia sp. for most of the gastropods. After 3 and 6 days, the most abundant macrofaunal taxa colonizing the sediment were Cerastoderma glaucum, Hydrobia sp. and gammarid amphipods. Higher abundances were found after 6 days than after 3, though differences were not significant for any of the major taxa. Meiofauna inhabiting the algae were dominated by rotifers, nematodes, ostracods, chironomid larvae and harpacticoid copepods. Contrary to our predictions, nematode and harpacticoid species inhabiting the drifting algae were not driven to sediment re-colonization but remained in the algae. Our results indicate that some benthic animals may indeed benefit from drifting algal mats as a means of dispersal and re-colonization of previously defaunated sediments in relatively short periods of time. Also, they may contribute to explain some of the trends found in other studies, regarding species increase under drifting algae and the recovery patterns found in areas often exposed to algal conglomerates.


defaunation dispersal drifting algal mats macrofauna meiofauna re-colonization 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nina Larissa Arroyo
    • 1
  • Katri Aarnio
    • 1
  • Erik Bonsdorff
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental and Marine Biology and Husö Biological StationÅbo AkademiÅboFinland

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