Meiofauna of the Southeastern United States Continental Shelf
Abstract:Quantitative data on meiofauna densities in open continental shelf regions of the world are sparse. As part of a multidisciplinary study of the outer continental shelf of the southeastern United States metazoan meiofauna were collected at 50 stations between 11–540 m spanning 4.5° latitude. Data from 25 sites were collected quarterly and herein we present an overview of meiofaunal assemblages from this open ocean, Gulf Stream dominated, continental shelf.
Meiofauna density observed during this study was higher than reported for other shelf regions of the world. Three taxa dominated: marine free-living nematodes comprised 51% of all meiofauna, copepods 19.1%, and gastrotrichs 6.7%. Density was highest in midshelf regions and decreased to lowest values at depths greater than 100 m. An inshore density depression was evident south of Charleston, South Carolina, where large river inputs apparently reduced meiofauna density. The five dominant families of nematodes and copepods were typical inhabitants of sandy sediment, and no differences were found in “familial” community structure on the shelf. Mystacocarida were regular inhabitants of three sampling stations and thus cannot continue to be classified solely as sandy beach organisms.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 1982
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