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The characteristics of the nematode faunas in subtidal sediments of a large microtidal estuary and nearshore coastal waters differ markedly

Hourston, M., Potter, I.C., Warwick, R.M. and Valesini, F.J. (2011) The characteristics of the nematode faunas in subtidal sediments of a large microtidal estuary and nearshore coastal waters differ markedly. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 94 (1). pp. 68-76.

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The present study examines traditional paradigms regarding the differences between faunas in estuaries vs coastal waters. The ecological characteristics of the free-living nematode faunas of nearshore, subtidal sediments in downstream and upstream areas of the large, microtidal Swan River Estuary are compared with those similarly recorded seasonally in subtidal sediments along an adjacent part of the coast of temperate south-western Australia. Overall, the nematode species richness recorded in the upstream (38) and downstream estuarine areas (58) and from throughout the estuary (61) were substantially less than in marine waters (75). In addition, the value for Simpson's diversity index was marginally less in the estuary and the dominance of the most abundant species greater. In contrast, the mean nematode species richness and diversity in individual cores followed the reverse trend, reflecting a combination of less variability among the species compositions and far greater densities in the cores from estuarine sediments. Furthermore, the mean density (numbers 10cm-2) was far higher in both upstream (341) and downstream (903) areas of the estuary than in marine waters (87). Although the compositions of the assemblages in upstream and downstream estuarine areas differed markedly from each other at the species, genus and family levels, these differences were less pronounced than those between either of these areas and marine waters. The trophic compositions at the moderately sheltered and fully exposed marine sites differed from that in both areas of the estuary, whereas that at the most sheltered marine site was similar to that in the downstream estuarine area, with both containing substantial proportions of epistrate-grazing species. The variations among the species richness, diversity, densities and taxonomic and trophic compositions of nematode assemblages in the sediments of the two estuarine areas and nearby marine waters appear to reflect differences in 1) salinity regimes, 2) extents of exposure to wave action and its related effects and 3) amounts and types of food available to nematodes.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Academic Press
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