Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

A new look into the small-scale dispersal of free-living marine nematodes

C Thomas, MicheliC Lana, Paulo

We tested experimentally the hypothesis that prevailing locomotion/feeding strategies and body morphology may lead to more active dispersal of free-living marine nematodes, besides passive transport. Neutral Red was applied to the sediment inside cores and the red plume formed during the flood tide was divided into near, middle, and distant zones. At 0.5 m and 1 m from the stained cores, sampling nets were suspended 5 and 10 cm above the sediment-water interface. Dispersion behaviors were defined as a function of a) the numbers of stained recaptured nematodes in comparison to their mean densities in the sediment, b) movement in the sediment or swimming in the water column, and c) body morphology. Tidal currents with average velocities of 9 cm/s resuspended the numerically dominant nematode taxa Sabatieria sp., Terschellingia longicaudata de Man, 1907, Metachromadora sp. and Viscosia sp. The recapture of stained nematodes as far as 2 m from the original stained cores showed that, despite their small body size, they can disperse through relatively large distances, either passively or actively, via the water column during a single tidal event. Recapture patterns in the sediment and in the water column indicate that nematode dispersal is directly influenced by their body morphology and swimming ability, and indirectly by their feeding strategies, which ultimately define their position in the sediment column. Besides stressing the role played by passive transport in the water column, our experiment additionally showed that mobility and feeding strategies also need to be considered as determinant of short-scale nematode dispersal.

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