Free Content Environmental Heterogeneity and the Biodiversity of Interstitial Polychaeta

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Meiofauna from soft-bottom benthos around Chafarinas Archipelago (Alboran Sea, western Mediterranean) were studied within the framework of a benthos survey. Qualitative and quantitative samples were collected using a 2-liter box-corer and a 10 cm2 area corer. Sedimentary environments showed high heterogeneity of interstitial habitats. The identified sedimentary environments, ranging from 0 to 60 m depth, were: mud, sand, muddy sand, Amphioxus gravel, biogenic sediment in mixed environments (seagrass meadows and littoral ponds), and midlittoral sand or gravel. Polyehaetes belonging to families restricted to the interstitial habitat (Nerillidae, Protodrilidae, Saccocirridae and Polygordiidae) were identified to species level. Other polychaetes were identified to family level. Interstitial polychaetes were not present in all sedimentary environments, communities in pure mud and sandy mud were devoid of these families. In communities found in mixed environments interstitial polychaetes were often the most abundant meiofaunal taxa. The high heterogeneity of interstitial environments provides many microhabitats that support a high biodiversity of polychaetes (12 species of so-called Archiannelida). They included species of families belonging to the permanent meiofauna, such as Phyllodocidae, Goniadidae, Sphaerodoridae, Hesionidae, Syllidae, Sigalionidae, Pisionidae, Dorvilleidae, Orbiniidae, Spionidae, Paraonidae and Sabellidae.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1997

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