Table of Contents
International Journal of Oceanography
Volume 2012, Article ID 903018, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/903018
Research Article

Assessment of Longitudinal Gradients in Nematode Communities in the Deep Northern Gulf of Mexico and Concordance with Benthic Taxa

1Department of Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio, One University Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA
2Department of Biology, The University of Nevada Reno, Mailstop 314, Reno, NV 89557, USA
3Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Dr., Corpus Christi, TX 78412, USA
4Department of Marine Biology, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Galveston, TX 77553, USA

Received 16 November 2011; Revised 16 February 2012; Accepted 29 March 2012

Academic Editor: Frans Jorissen

Copyright © 2012 Jyotsna Sharma et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Meiobenthic nematode assemblages were examined at 16 stations along two transects on the eastern and western boundaries of the deep northern Gulf of Mexico (dNGOM) at depths of 212–3000 m. The highest abundance (297 individuals 10 cm−2) and number of genera (71) occurred at stations near the Mississippi River delta. Number of genera decreased with increasing depth, and showed differences in community composition between the east and west regions. The dominant family, Comesomatidae, was represented by Sabatieria that was present at most shallow stations but absent at greater water depths. A significant difference in nematode feeding morphology was observed between depth groups but not between the two transects at different longitudes. Patterns of nematode community structure are congruent with harpacticoid copepods. Overall, the higher abundance and diversity of nematodes in the north-central Gulf of Mexico is consistent with findings of other benthic taxa and reflects organic material loading from the Mississippi River driving deep sea communities in the Gulf. The east-west gradient in composition of nematode communities suggests that nematode assemblages have well-defined distribution patterns similar to other meiobenthic taxa in the GOM but they are not aligned in the bathymetric zones observed in macrofauna, megafauna and demersal fishes.