A field experiment was conducted at an intertidal mudflat in SE England to investigate processes affecting the development of meiobenthic nematode assemblages in response to the placement of different types of sediment, simulating the deposition of fine-grained maintenance dredged material for habitat creation. Natural assemblages were exposed to different types of substrate, including sediment with natural sand and organic content (defaunated control), sediment with elevated sand content (high sand content treatment) and sediment with elevated organic content (high organic content treatment) for a period of 12 months. Differences between colonising assemblages and those from ambient control sediment in terms of total nematode abundance, taxonomic membership (i.e. number of species, species composition) and size (i.e. total biomass, biomass size spectra) were most marked in the plots with elevated organic content. Nematode density, number of species and total biomass in the defaunated control and high sand content treatment came to resemble those in the ambient control sediment after 3 months. In the organically enriched sediment, values only attained background level at the end of the experiment. Multivariate analyses revealed that, although assemblage structure in all treatments, and in particular the defaunated control and the high sand content treatment, became increasingly similar to the ambient sediment over time, recovery to ambient condition had not occurred 1 year after the set-up of the experiment.
|Number of pages||18|
|Journal||Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology|
|Publication status||Published - 26 May 2004|