|Meiofauna in the Gollum Channels and the Whittard Canyon, Celtic Margin — How local environmental conditions shape nematode structure and function|
|Ingels, J.; Tchesunov, A.V.; Vanreusel, A. (2011). Meiofauna in the Gollum Channels and the Whittard Canyon, Celtic Margin — How local environmental conditions shape nematode structure and function. PLoS One 6(5): e20094. dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0020094|
|In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203, more|
Meiofauna; Nematoda [WoRMS]; Marine
The Gollum Channels and Whittard Canyon (NE Atlantic) are two areas that receive high input of organic matter and phytodetritus from euphotic layers, but they are typified by different trophic and hydrodynamic conditions. Sediment biogeochemistry was analysed in conjunction with structure and diversity of the nematode community and differences were tested between study areas, water depths (700 m vs 1000 m), stations, and sediment layers. The Gollum Channels and Whittard Canyon harboured high meiofauna abundances (1054–1426 ind. 10 cm-2) and high nematode diversity (total of 181 genera). Next to enhanced meiofauna abundance and nematode biomass, there were signs of high levels of organic matter deposition leading to reduced sedimentary conditions, which in turn structured the nematode community. Striking in this respect was the presence of large numbers of ‘chemosynthetic’ Astomonema nematodes (Astomonema southwardorum, Order Monhysterida, Family Siphonolaimidae). This genus lacks a mouth, buccal cavity and pharynx and possesses a rudimentary gut containing internal, symbiotic prokaryotes which have been recognised as sulphur-oxidising bacteria. Dominance of Astomonema may indicate the presence of reduced environments in the study areas, which is partially confirmed by the local biogeochemical environment. The nematode communities were mostly affected by sediment layer differences and concomitant trophic conditions rather than other spatial gradients related to study area, water depth or station differences, pointing to small-scale heterogeneity as the main source of variation in nematode structure and function. Furthermore, the positive relation between nematode standing stocks, and quantity and quality of the organic matter was stronger when hydrodynamic disturbance was greater. Analogically, this study also suggests that structural diversity can be positively correlated with trophic conditions and that this relation is tighter when hydrodynamic disturbance is greater.