Indexed on: 01 Jun '88Published on: 01 Jun '88Published in: Marine Biology
The effects of changes in vertical and horizontal microscale gradients of oxygen and sulfide on meiofaunal distributions were examined in laboratory microcosms. Specifically, the effect of tube abandonment and reestablishment by macro-infauna on the distribution of subsurface turbellarians, gnathostomulids and gastrotrichs was studied. Meiofauna responded rapidly (within 6 h) to changing sediment chemistry, consistently trying to reoccupy optimal habitat. Every subsurface taxon had a preferred suboptimal habitat which it occupied primarily during transit from deteriorating to newly established optimal habitat. Only during this time did the distribution of ecologically similar taxa overlap substantially. Changes in oxygen and sulfide gradients could explain most but not all of the response; food availability might also be important. Oxybios consistently chose oxic suboptimal microhabitat. Thus behaviorally, as well as biochemically and ecologically, thiobios represent a distinct group among the meiofauna.