|Irish intertidal meiofauna: A modicum of progress|
|Boaden, P.J.S. (2005). Irish intertidal meiofauna: A modicum of progress, in: Wilson, J.G. (Ed.) (2005). The intertidal ecosystem: the value of Ireland’s shores. pp. 81-99|
|In: Wilson, J.G. (Ed.) (2005). The intertidal ecosystem: the value of Ireland’s shores. Royal Irish Academy: Dublin. ISBN 1-904890-09-1. 206 pp., more|
Sporadic records of meiofauna on Irish shores appear from the 1860s onwards. These and more recent records of metazoan meiofaunal taxa are reviewed. Meiofaunal abundance and diversity are related to the habitats’ structural complexity. Overall abundances of up to two hundred individuals below each square centimetre of sand beach surface and of one thousand per gram wet weight of plant have been recorded on Co. Down beaches. Distributions and abundances of meiofauna vary with sub-habitats as for example shown by work on Oligochaeta and Acari. An example of sub-habitat differences in abundance is given for flatworms in a sand beach with Arenicola burrows. Biomass data is absent from the literature but data for one Co. Down beach is presented. In spite of the paucity of information on our beach meiofauna, Irish work led to the first published EM pictures illustrating meiofaunal adaptation at the ultrastructural level and to the elaboration of the concept of the thiobios. A small amount of work has been conducted on behaviour and physiology of meiofauna from Irish beaches but very little is known of their energetics. Some work on meiofaunal respiration has illustrated the foolhardiness of applying laboratory algorithms to field populations unless population density and adaptation to environmental temperatures are considered. Although meiofauna may provide a very good means of monitoring pollution, to date there appear to be only five Irish studies considering possible anthropogenic affects; these relate to oil spill detergent, Pb, sewage discharge, the presence of intertidal oyster trestles and seaweed harvesting respectively. In conclusion some progress has been made but it is clear that a great deal of work on faunistics, population ecology, species interaction and energetics remains to be done before the role of meiofauna in Irish beaches can be properly assessed.