Effects of sediment grain size on abundance of marine nematodes in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

Free-living marine nematodes are a functionally and morphologically diverse group of animals. They have important ecological functions, many of which are not currently well understood, and may be bioindicators of climate change and pollution. Nematode abundance is impacted by many factors; the focus of this paper is to study the effects of sediment composition on nematodes. Within a study site on the west side of the island of Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean, three stations with different sediment compositions and mean grain sizes were selected. Endobenthos samples were taken at each station and abundance of nematodes was recorded and compared between the stations. Mean grain size was not found to have a correlation with the density of nematodes, non-nematode organisms, or total organisms across the study stations. The overall average density of nematodes found at the site (1.71 ± 0.32 nematodes per cm3 , ± SD) is lower than values found in comparable studies, which could be related to pollution or change in temperature affecting the endobenthic community in the study site. This data may have been insufficient to support the hypothesis due to having a small sample size and too narrow a range of mean grain size between the stations. Despite this, this paper provides the first published data on nematode communities in Bonaire, and is an important foundation for future study of the ecological functions of marine nematodes in this area.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science XIX (Spring 2016)19: 1-8 from CIEE Bonaire.

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