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Free Content Effect of physical disturbance on population dynamics and trophic interactions among microbes and meiofauna

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A series of laboratory experiments was conducted to assess the effects of physical disturbance of surface sediments on trophic interactions among bacteria, protozoa and meiofauna. Bacteria, zooflagellates, and populations of the hypotrich ciliate Aspidisca sp. and the nematode Diplolaimella chitwoodi were, at most sampling periods, not significantly affected by small-scale, daily disturbances. However, populations of the epibenthic harpacticoid copepod Tisbe holothuriae became disproportionately abundant in disturbed cultures.

Bacterial numbers, growth rates and doubling times were affected little by the presence of meiofauna. The response of zooflagellates was not clear; populations of the ciliate Aspidisca sp. were, at most sampling intervals, significantly more abundant in the presence of either meiofauna species.

Small-scale disturbances of surface sediments, perhaps regardless of cause, do not appear to be important mechanisms in the structuring and functioning of infaunal meiobenthos-microbial food webs. The dynamics of microbe-meiofauna interactions in sediments are ultimately regulated by the amounts of essential nutrients derived from detritus. Disturbances may be more important for some epifaunal meiobenthos dependent upon migration to disturbed habitats for their survival.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1985-05-01

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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