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Free-living plathelminthes in sheep-grazed and ungrazed supralittoral salt marshes of the North Sea: abundance, biomass, and their significance in food chains
Armonies, W. (1986). Free-living plathelminthes in sheep-grazed and ungrazed supralittoral salt marshes of the North Sea: abundance, biomass, and their significance in food chains. Neth. J. Sea Res. 20(4): 385-395
In: Netherlands Journal of Sea Research. Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ): Groningen; Den Burg. ISSN 0077-7579, more
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    Marine

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  • Armonies, W., more

Abstract
    The supralittoral salt marshes of the North Sea are marked by high halophyte primary productivity. The environmental factors are strongly fluctuating. Despite these features the metazoan meiofaunal abundance is equal to that found in other littoral habitats. On average 1250 marine metazoans are found per 10 cm² in ungrazed and 770 per 10 cm² in sheep-grazed supralittoral salt marshes. Nematoda dominate in numerical abundance, Oligochaeta in biomass. Plathelminthes account for 15% of marine metazoans in ungrazed and 5% in grazed salt marshes. Total plathelminth abundance increases with halophyte density, whereas the abundance of diatom-feeding Plathelminthes decreases. In ungrazed marshes on average 104 Plathelminthes are found per 10 cm², accounting for a biomass of 0.65 g DW·m-2. In sheep-grazed marshes the average abundance is only 32 individuals per 10 cm², accounting for a biomass of 0.1 g DW·m-2. Average individual weight is 3.2 µg DW or 2.5 µg AFDW. In grazed salt marshes, 30% of plathelminthes feed on diatoms, 66% are predators, and 4% feed on bacteria (gut analysis). In ungrazed salt marshes only 3% are diatom-feeders, and 90% are predators feeding on Nematoda, Copepoda, Oligochaeta, and smaller Plathelminthes. Presumably plathelminthes are top predators on the salt marsh meiofauna.

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