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Microscale dispersion of meiobenthic copepods in response to food resource patchiness

, : Microscale dispersion of meiobenthic copepods in response to food resource patchiness. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology & Ecology 118(3): 229-244

Microscale (mm2-cm2) spatial patterns of harpacticoid copepods were determined in intertidal mud-flat sediments using contiguous coring and were analysed with spatial autocorrelation. Associations with potential major food resources (diatoms) were further examined in laboratory studies. In the field, patches of Microarthridion littorale (Poppe) are positively correlated with high concentrations of diatoms (as measured by Chl a concentration) at low tide. Also, laboratory preference experiments show that this species seeks and locates sediments containing high concentrations of diatoms and/or their chemical exudates. During high water, significant patchiness in M. littorale disappears as some individuals frequent the water column. Scottolana canadensis (Willey) is not associated with sediment chlorophyll pigments. S. canadensis is a burrow dweller which feeds primarily during times of water cover on suspended planktonic material, and laboratory preference experiments indicate it does not actively seek sediments containing high concentrations of sediment food resources. Microspatial dispersion of intertidal meiofauna does not appear to be regulated by any single factor, and patterns vary with species and feeding mode (benthic or planktonic). Additionally, spatial pattern in epibenthic mud dwelling copepods appears to be disrupted with each tidal cycle due to active or passive resuspension processes. Spatial patterns, therefore, probably develop relatively quickly, and are influenced by processes occurring during the proceeding tidal stage.


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