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Size spectra, body width and morphotypes of intertidal nematodes: an ecological interpretation
Tita, G.; Vincx, M.; Desrosiers, G. (1999). Size spectra, body width and morphotypes of intertidal nematodes: an ecological interpretation. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 79(6): 1007-1015
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
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 273769 [ OMA ]

Keywords
    Abundance; Benthos; Biomass; Diversity; Meiobenthos; Transport; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Tita, G.
  • Vincx, M., more
  • Desrosiers, G.

Abstract
    Nematode species from three intertidal assemblages (St Lawrence Estuary, Quebec, Canada) were studied in order to form an ecological interpretation of three allometric attributes: body width, size spectra, and morphotypes. The three assemblages were characterized by a very similar sediment grain median (Md) but different silt-clay proportions: A1 (upper-tidal level; Md=122 µm; silt=34.8%), A3 (mid-tidal level; Md=182 µm; silt=12.8%), and A5 (lower-tidal level; Md=122 µm; silt=6.8%). Silt-clay proportions were an influential factor in determining the mean nematode body width, used as a morphological discriminant between burrowing and interstitial organisms. A plot of the number of species vs the body width-classes showed two peaks: between 19.3 and 22.6 µm (interstitial), and between 32.0 and 45.5 µm (burrowers). As for the size spectra, in sandy sediments the mean nematode individual biomass was smaller than in muddy sediments. As a consequence, the estimated mean individual respiration rate was greater in muddy (A1=2.26 nl O2h-1) than sandy sediments (A3=1.25 nl O2h-1; A5=1.12 nl O2h-1). In contrast, estimated metabolic ratios were lower in A1 (2.78 nl O2h-1 µg-1 dry weight, DW) than in A3 (2.95 nl O2h-1 µg-1 DW) and A5 (3.01 nl O2h-1 µg-1 DW) suggesting different productivity and/or physiological adaptations to different lifestyles (burrowing vs interstitial) between species inhabiting muddy or sandy sediments. Morphotypes (body width/body length ratio=w/l ratio) were found to be associated with feeding groups. Small w/l ratios were typical of microvores, while greater ratios were typical of epigrowth feeders and predators. Ciliate-feeders, deposit-feeders and facultative predators had intermediate ratios. A morphotype food-related hypothesis is proposed: the species morphotype reflects the quality of exploited food; a small w/l ratio (i.e. long gut) would favour digestive efficiency and would be an adaptation to low quality food (microvores); inversely a greater w/l ratio (i.e. short gut) would be an adaptation to high quality food (epigrowth-feeders and predators).

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