Differential response of meio- and macrofauna to in situ burial

Paul Whomersley, Mark Huxham, Michaela Schratzberger, Stefan Bolam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Benthic nematode and macrofaunal communities are regularly utilized in impact studies. However, very few studies are carried out utilizing both communities. A literature search using the search engine Scopus (www.Scopus.com) covering the last twenty years, using the keywords ‘Macrofauna’ and ‘Disturbance’ then ‘Meiofauna’ and ‘Disturbance’ and finally ‘Macrofauna and Meiofauna’ and ‘Disturbance’, gave 210, 115 and 36 hits respectively. To assess the differential response of meio- and macrofauna to in situ burial a replicated random block designed field experiment was carried out over a 9-month period on an intertidal mud flat. In situ burial was achieved by spreading 4 cm of anoxic mud on top of each treatment plot at two different intensities. Differences in the response of the two faunal communities over time were assessed using both univariate and multivariate techniques. Clear differences in community behaviour over time and in response to the different intensities of disturbance were observed. Overall macrofauna were found to be more sensitive to physical disturbance than meiofaunal nematodes, although, attributes of meiofaunal nematode communities were more sensitive to the initial impacts of disturbance. The observed community-specific responses and sensitivities of meiofauna and macrofauna to the physical disturbance associated with in situ burial highlights the importance of using both faunal types in the assessment of the effects of seabed disturbance in the marine environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1091-1098
JournalJournal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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