The Effects of Marsh and Stem Position on Abundances of Meiofauna Located on Spartina Alterniflora
De Vos, Paula S.
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The intertidal zone of Georgia's coastline is dominated by softbottom marshland with extensive Spartina alterniflora vegetation. This marshland provides a habitat for numerous meiofaunal species that hitherto have been classified as mainly benthic. However, the carbon source, increased physical structure, and habitat complexity (Le. increased habitat space, refuge, and food resources) provided by marsh vegetation for meiofaunal organisms led us to explore the possibility of meiofaunal habitats on S. alterniflora stems. Preliminary sampling indicated higher meiofaunal abundances on stems from a low marsh elevation and at the lower part of the two stem sections considered (0-5 cm and 5-10 cm). Our study involved transplanting S. alterniflora stems from high to low marsh elevation and vice versa, which were then sampled regularly along with control and natural, or undisturbed, stems over a 12-day period. Our results confirmed preliminary data for natural stems, yet both transplants and controls for the low stem position showed similar abundances to the high marsh naturals, all of which were significantly lower than those of the low marsh. Further study must be done to correct for covariance and to isolate the exact cause of the differences.