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Meiofaunal distributions on the Peru margin: relationship to oxygen and organic matter availability
Neira, C.; Sellanes, J.; Levin, L.A.; Arntz, W.E. (2001). Meiofaunal distributions on the Peru margin: relationship to oxygen and organic matter availability. Deep-Sea Res., Part 1, Oceanogr. Res. Pap. 48: 2453-2472
In: Deep-Sea Research, Part I. Oceanographic Research Papers. Elsevier: Oxford. ISSN 0967-0637, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Neira, C.
  • Sellanes, J.
  • Levin, L.A.
  • Arntz, W.E.

Abstract
    A quantitative study of metazoan meiofauna was carried out on bathyal sediments (305, 562, 830 and 1210 m) along a transect within and beneath the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) in the southeastern Paciffic off Callao, Peru (12°S). Meiobenthos densities ranged from 1517 (upper slope, middle of OMZ) to 440 - 548 ind.10 cm2 (lower slope stations, beneath the OMZ). Nematodes were the numerically dominant meiofaunal taxon at every station, followed by copepods and nauplii. Increasing bottom-water oxygen concentration and decreasing organic matter availability downslope were correlated with observed changes in meiofaunal abundance. The 300-m site, located in the middle of the OMZ, differed signifficantly in meiofaunal abundance, dominance, and in vertical distribution pattern from the deeper sites. At 305 m, nematodes amounted to over 99% of total meiofauna; about 70 %of nematodes were found in the 2 -5 cm interval. At the deeper sites, about 50% were restricted to the top 1 cm. The importance of copepods and nauplii increased consistently with depth, reaching ~ 12% of the total meiofauna at the deepest site. The observation of high nematode abundances at oxygen concentrations < 0.02 ml l1 supports the hypothesis that densities are enhanced by an indirect positive effect of low oxygen involving (a) reduction of predators and competitors and (b) preservation of organic matter leading to high food availability and quality. Food input and quality, represented here by chloroplastic pigment equivalents (CPE) and sedimentary labile organic compounds (protein, carbohydrates and lipids), were strongly, positively correlated with nematode abundance. By way of contrast, oxygen exhibited a strong negative correlation, overriding food availability, with abundance of other meiofauna such as copepods and nauplii. These taxa were absent at the 300-m site. The high correlation of labile organic matter (C-LOM, sum of carbon contents in lipids, proteins and carbohydrates) with CPE (Pearson’s r = 0, 99, p < 0.01) suggests that most of the sedimentary organic material sampled was of phytodetrital origin. The fraction of sediment organic carbon potentially available to benthic heterotrophs, measured as C-LOM/Total organic carbon, was on average 17% at all stations. Thus, a residual, refractory fraction, constitutes the major portion of organic matter at the studied bathyal sites

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