Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 1478–1490 | Cite as

Structural and Functional Composition of Benthic Nematode Assemblages During a Natural Recovery Process of Zostera noltii Seagrass Beds

  • Patrick MateratskiEmail author
  • Anna-Maria Vafeiadou
  • Tom Moens
  • Helena Adão


In 2008, the stable seagrass beds of the Mira estuary (SW Portugal) disappeared completely; however, during 2009, they have begun to present early symptoms of natural recovery, characterised by a strongly heterogeneous distribution. This study was designed to investigate the spatial and temporal variability patterns of species composition, densities and trophic composition of the benthic nematode assemblages in this early recovery process, at two sampling sites with three stations each and at five sampling occasions. Because of the erratic and highly patchy seagrass recovery and the high environmental similarity of the two sampling sites, we expected within-site variability in nematode assemblages to exceed between-site variability. However, contrary to that expectation, whilst nematode genus composition was broadly similar between sites, nematode densities differed significantly between sites, and this between-site variability exceeded within-site variability. This may be linked to differences in the Zostera recovery patterns between both sites. In addition, no clear temporal patterns of nematode density, trophic composition and diversity were evident. Nematode assemblages generally resembled those of other estuarine muddy intertidal areas, which have a high tolerance of stress conditions.


Biodiversity Free-living nematodes Seagrass recovery Spatial and temporal distributions 



P. Materatski is grateful to the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) for a doctoral grant (ref. SFRH/BD/65915/2009), funded by Programa Operacional Potencial Humano of QREN Portugal (2007–2013) and by the Portuguese budget through the Ministry of Education and Science. Anna-Maria Vafeiadou acknowledges a joint PhD grant from the research council of Ghent University (BOF). The present study was also carried out using funds provided by the research projects CoolNematode (FCT; EXPL/MAR-EST/0553/2013) and ProMira (PROMAR; 31-03-02-FEP-006).

Supplementary material

12237_2016_86_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (394 kb)
ESM 1 Mean density ± standard error (SE) of nematode genera (individuals 10 cm−2) on each sampling occasion (February 2010, June 2010, September 2010, December 2010 and February 2011), site (A and B) and station (1, 2, and 3). Trophic groups (TGs) of each genus. Only the most abundant genera are included in this table (PDF 394 kb)


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Materatski
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anna-Maria Vafeiadou
    • 2
  • Tom Moens
    • 2
  • Helena Adão
    • 1
  1. 1.MARE-Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, School of Sciences and TechnologyUniversity of ÉvoraÉvoraPortugal
  2. 2.Marine Biology Lab, Department of BiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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