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Title: A preliminary comparative assessment of the meiofaunal communities of Maltese pocket sandy beaches
Authors: Kotwicki, Lech
Deidun, Alan
Grzelak, Katarzyna
Gianni, Fabrizio
Keywords: Meiofauna -- Malta
Beaches -- Malta
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Academic Press
Citation: Kotwicki, L., Deidun, A., Grzelak, K., & Gianni, F. (2014). A preliminary comparative assessment of the meiofaunal communities of Maltese pocket sandy beaches. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 150, 111-119.
Abstract: Whilst the macrofaunal communities of Maltese pocket sandy beaches have been extensively studied, the meiofaunal communities of the same beaches are virtually unknown. The main aims of the current study include the acquisition of preliminary data on the occurrence of meiofaunal higher taxa on Maltese pocket sandy beaches, the comparison between the Maltese beach meiofaunal communities with those on other Mediterranean sandy beaches and the assessment of the influence of a selected number of beach physical parameters on the same communities. Seven sandy beaches in the Maltese Islands were sampled during spring 2012, with sediment samples being collected at the Mean Sea Level (mediolittoral zone). Median grain size and sediment organic and water content were measured for each beach. A total of 13 higher meiofaunal taxa were recorded from the Maltese sandy beaches. The meiofaunal abundance ranged between 50 and 1392 individuals/10 cm2 , whilst the number of meiofaunal higher taxa recorded at a single sampling station ranged between 5 and 10. Mean grain size and sorting coefficient appeared to have the highest influence on variations in Maltese meiofaunal communities. Based on conducted analysis it is suggested that inter-beach dispersal of meiofaunal propagules for Maltese beaches is restricted to short distances and does not operate over distances exceeding 5e10 km. This in turn results in some degree of compartmentalisation of the same assemblages. The meiofaunal assemblages recorded from the Maltese beaches exhibited comparable densities to those recorded on other Central Mediterranean sandy beaches and no significant differences in community structure at higher taxa level were observed.
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