|Benthic food web analysis and meiofauna community dynamics in the seagrass Zostera noltii beds|
Vafeiadou, A.-M. (2011). Benthic food web analysis and meiofauna community dynamics in the seagrass Zostera noltii beds. MSc Thesis. Ghent University: Gent. 46 pp.
Zostera subg. Zosterella noltei Hornemann [WoRMS]
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Seagrass habitats are known to support high faunal diversity, providing various micro-habitats and high food resource availability to the associated fauna. The seagrass beds of Zostera noltii at the Mira estuary (Portugal) suffered a total collapse in 2008; however, early recovery already occurs. Through a comparison of pre- and post-impact data, significant differences were observed in the nematode community patterns and trophic diversity, indicating meiofauna recovery and resilience after disturbance. Shifts in the community structure were also reflected in functional diversity. A parallel stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis of the principal organic carbon sources utilized by meio- and macrofauna consumers was carried out. Isotopic signatures indicated the important role of epiphytes on the seagrass leaves and benthic microalgae to the benthic food web, underlying the complexity of trophic relations in a seagrass ecosystem. This study also provides evidence for alternative trophic pathways, including chemoautotrophic bacteria and endosymbiotic relationships.