Meiofauna: their role in marine detrital systems
Warwick, R.M. (1987) Meiofauna: their role in marine detrital systems. In: Moriarty, D.J.W. and Pullin, R.S.V., (eds.) Detritus and microbial ecology in aquaculture: proceedings of the Conference on Detrital Systems for Aquaculture held Bellagio, Como, Italy, 26-31 August, 1985. ICLARM, Manila, Philippines, pp. 282-295.
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Detritally enriched marine habitats are characterized by high densities of meiofauna which are generally confined to a few taxa: nematodes of the genera Rhabditis, Diplolaimella and Diplolaimelloides and copepods of the genus Tisbe, the latter often in multispecies guilds. All species are opportunistic with the ability to utilize a wide variety of food sources, a high reproductive potential and rapid rates of population growth. The nematode are bacterial feeders and convert detrital to nematode biomss with an efficiency of about 1% in a simple two-step food chain their presence enhances the rate of bacterial decomposition of the detritus. The feeding behavior of copepoda of the genus Tisbe is more complex and they may occupy several trophic levels. Meiofauna, particularly copepods, are the main dietary item for the juvenile stages of many commercially important marine food species including fish and crustaceans, and they therefore play a crucial role in the rearing of such species in aquaculture systems.
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