|Meiofaunal diversity and functional trait analysis in relation to disturbance and mangrove species in Avalon State Park (Florida, USA)|
Gimena, R.V. (2013). Meiofaunal diversity and functional trait analysis in relation to disturbance and mangrove species in Avalon State Park (Florida, USA). MSc Thesis. VUB/Universiteit Gent/Universiteit Antwerpen: Brussel, Gent, Antwerpen. 18, 54 pp.
meiofauna, mangroves, nematodes, functional diversity, ecosystem functioning
This study concerns the meiobenthic community in Avalon State Park. Specifically, the effect of mangrove species and disturbance to meiofaunal structural and functional diversity was investigated in this study. Nested sampling design was applied by randomly selecting six trees (4 Avicennia and 2 Rhizophora mangrove trees). Two Avicennia and two Rhizophora trees were from an ‘undisturbed’ area outside the influence of the dike construction, while two Avicennia trees were inside the dike protected area. Both structural (meiofauna higher taxa and nematode species) and functional (feeding groups and life strategy) diversity measures were used to describe the meiobenthic community of Florida mangroves. Results showed that meiofauna and nematode species composition are similar to other studies in mangrove soils from different parts of the world. Significant differences between Rhizophora and Avicennia were noted for meiofauna and nematode richness, meiofauna taxonomic diversity, feeding group 2A (epigrowth feeders), and c-p classes 4 and 5. On the other hand, significant differences between disturbed and undisturbed sites were noted for nematode community composition, species evenness and diversity, feeding group 2A (epigrowth feeders), c-p classes 4 and 5 and maturity index. Both taxonomical and functional traits gave similar structure of nematode assemblages but with different levels of statistical similarity between samples. In general, the effect of either mangrove species or disturbance to the structuring of meiobenthic communities could possibly influence the functioning of below-ground component of mangrove ecosystems.