Effects of physical disturbance on nematode communities in sand and mud: a microcosm experiment

Michaela Schratzberger, Richard Warwick

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A microcosm experiment was carried out to evaluate the effects of continuous and spasmodic physical disturbance of differing frequency on the structure of nematode communities of intertidal sand and mud. There was a marked, characteristic change in abundance and diversity for both sediment types. In the sand microcosms, the majority of univariate measures of community structure, including species diversity, were lowest in the sediments subjected to a high frequency of disturbance. For the mud microcosms, most univariate measures reached their highest values in the treatments with an intermediate frequency of disturbance and were lower in treatments subjected to both higher and lower frequencies. Multivariate ordinations for both nematode assemblages showed a clear separation of undisturbed controls and disturbed treatments, but only for the muddy sediment was there a graded change in community composition with increasing frequency of disturbance. These results confirmed our a priori expectation that nematode assemblages from mobile sandy sediments would be more resilient to physical disturbance than those from sheltered muds, and these observations are considered in the context of Connell's intermediate disturbance hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643–650
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes

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