Meiofauna and benthic microbial biomass in a semi-enclosed Mediterranean marine system (Stagnone di Marsala, Italy)

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Microbial and meiofaunal dynamics and their relationships with the biochemical composition of the sedimentaryorganic matter were investigated in a semi-enclosed marine system (Marsala lagoon, Western Sicily,Mediterranean Sea).Sediment samples were collected on a monthly basis from March 1996 to February 1997 in four stations locatedalong a N–S transect characterized by different hydrodynamic regimes. Total sedimentary organic matterconcentration ranged from 5.681.11 to 156.2812.63 mg g1, while the biopolymeric fraction of organiccarbon (BPC, measured as sum of the lipids, carbohydrates and proteins) accounted for only a small fraction(24%) of total organic matter. Total meiofaunal density was extremely low, accounting for, on annual average,11229 ind.=10 cm2 and largely dominated by nematodes (on annual average from 40% to 91% of totalmeiofaunal density). Benthic microbial density ranged from 0.220.02109 to 106.8316.77109 g1sediment dry weight (DW). Microbial biomass ranged from 0.010.003 to 7.040.14mg Cg1 sediment DWand accounted for a significant fraction of BPC at all stations (10%). Low chlorophyll-a concentration in thesediments of the Marsala lagoon (on annual average from 2 to 16 mgg1 sediment DW) suggests that organicdetrital and heterotrophic bacteria largely dominate the sedimentary organic matter and do not promote thetransfer of carbon towards the higher trophic state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-396
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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