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Free Content Dispersal of meiofauna in a turbulent tidal creek

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Traditionally meiofauna have been viewed as strictly infaunal organisms adapted for life between sediment grains. Recent evidence has shown that marine meiofauna also occur in the water column. A set of field experiments investigated processes controlling the abundance of meiofauna in the water column. The transport of meiofauna in a tidal creek was identified to be primarily a passive process resulting from mechanical removal due to current scour. Drifting meiofauna included interstitial, burrowing, and epibenthic species. Copepods, foraminiferans, and juvenile bivalves were suspended in greatest numbers relative to their sediment abundances. Suspension of meiofauna was greatest for species residing in the upper sediment layers and/or occasionally crawling about on the sediment surface. Suspended meiofauna and sediment were well-mixed within the water column, suggesting that behavioral control over water column dispersal was limited once the animals were in the water. Suspension of meiofauna was not a function of winds, time of day, lunar cycle (neap vs. spring tides), or the abundance of meiofauna in the sediment. The abundance of meiofauna in the water was determined primarily by the magnitude of the friction velocity (u.). The emerging concept is that in habitats where water currents are strong enough to lead to sediment scour, meiofauna dispersal is a two-step process with erosion rather than active water column entry (modified by behavior patterns for some species) and subsequent mixing and transport as passive particles.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 1985

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, 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. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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