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Meiobenthic and macrobenthic community structure in carbonate sediments of Rocas atoll (north-east, Brazil)

Netto, S.A., Warwick, R.M. and Attrill, M.J. (1999) Meiobenthic and macrobenthic community structure in carbonate sediments of Rocas atoll (north-east, Brazil). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 48 (1). pp. 39-50.

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Rocas is the only atoll of the South Atlantic and it is built almost exclusively by coralline red algae, vermetid gastropods and encrusting foraminiferans. Patterns in the community structure of meiofauna and macrofauna, particularly nematodes and polychaetes, at Rocas Atoll, north-east Brazil, are determined and compared for different habitats: sublittoral, tidal flat, reef pools and lagoon. Nematodes and copepods were the most abundant meiofaunal taxa. In all studied habitats at Rocas Atoll, oligochaetes, nematodes and polychaetes numerically dominate the macrofauna. Univariate and multivariate analyses reveal clear differences in community structure between the habitats of the atoll, especially between the sublittoral and the inner habitats. The number of species, total density, diversity (H') and trophic structure vary significantly between the habitats, but the differences are dependent on which faunistic category (meiobenthic or macrobenthic) is analysed. Nematodes belonging to the Epsilonematidae and Draconematidae, together with a diverse community of meiobenthic polychaetes, characterize the sublittoral habitat of Rocas Atoll. Both meiofauna and macrofauna are depressed in the tidal flat, and the local sediment instability particularly affects the polychaete abundance. Reef pools and lagoons support a very dense aggregation of invertebrates, particularly the macrofauna, when compared with other carbonate reef sediments. However, differences in the structure of meiofauna and macrofauna communities between reef pools and lagoons are not significant. Changes in meiobenthic and macrobenthic community structure are related to the gradation in the physical environment of the atoll.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Academic Press
Copyright: © 1999 Academic Press.
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