|Linking estuarine nematodes to their suspected food: a case study from the Westerschelde estuary (south-west Netherlands)|
Moens, T.; Van Gansbeke, D.; Vincx, M. (1999). Linking estuarine nematodes to their suspected food: a case study from the Westerschelde estuary (south-west Netherlands). J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 79: 1017-1027
In: Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press/Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom: Cambridge. ISSN 0025-3154, more
Ecology; Marine nematodes; Meiobenthos; Populations; Populations; Scale; Scale; Bacteria [WoRMS]; Marine
The present study investigates correlations between abundances of nematodes (at the genus level) and benthic microalgae on an intertidal mudflat in the Westerschelde Estuary (south-west Netherlands), using both multi- and univariate methods. Two sample series, covering surface areas of 10 cm(2) (meioscale) and 1.25 cm(2) (microscale) per sample were analysed. Trophic type analysis indicated that an average of 31% of the nematode community were candidate grazers of microalgae. Multivariate data analysis indicated that only a limited part of the variation in the nematode data could be explained in relation to pigments. Total nematodes did not show any correlation with the pigment data. On the meioscale, the genera Tripyloides and Calyptronema correlated negatively with chlorophyll concentration (chl-a and chl-c, respectively), while Prochromadorella correlated positively with the ratio of fucoxanthin to chi-a, a ratio which at the present sampling site can be considered to be a measure of the proportion of diatoms in the total microalgal standing stock. On the microscale, up to ten genera, comprising 76% of total nematode numbers, were correlated with pigments. A majority (74%) correlated specifically with the ratio of fucoxanthin to chi-a, while much fewer nematodes showed a direct correlation to pigment concentrations. Whereas many of these correlations could be explained in terms of direct trophic links, several others probably represented indirect relationships, trophic or other. Food densities may be less important structuring factors of nematode communities on tidal flats than relative abundances of particular food sources. It is suggested that nematodes actively migrate towards 'optimal' food patches, and that this dynamic aspect of nematode-microalgae correlations is best revealed at a spatial-scale small enough to allow a rapid response of nematodes to changes in adjacent patches. Apparently, the microscale used in the present study is more adequate for the study of such intricate interactions than the meioscale.