A Survey of Subtidal Tardigrade and Meiofauna Diversity at West Falmouth Harbor and Right’s Beach.

 

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Meredith L Langford
Committee: Paul Bartels, Jeff Holmes, Langdon Martin

In response to growing concerns of coastal pollution recent research efforts have turned to using meiofauna as pollution indicators. As the first meiofauna survey within the polluted West Falmouth Harbor this study seeks to perform a basic inventory of Phyla Present while investigating harbor health. Samples were collected every 10 meters along 100 meter transects at three different sample sites around the harbor. SCUBA and snorkel gear were used to enable collection of sublittoral surface sediment. Freshwater shock was used to extract organisms from the sediment. Samples were preserved in a solution of formalin and ethanol. In the lab, organisms were identified into Phyla based groups and tallied. The subset counts were extrapolated to estimate the total abundance of organisms in a sample. Nematodes dominated at all three sites with turbellarians and copepods following respectively. A group designated as ‘Other’ was formed from Phyla and Genera totaling less than 1% of a sample’s abundance. The average percent abundance of Nematodes found in West Falmouth Harbor ranged from 60 to 80 percent, a range supported by other harbor based studies. As the use of nematode to copepod ratios has become discussed as a way to assess harbor health, such a ratio was acquired here but revealed no significant pollution levels. In sum, this data helps to provide a baseline for further investigation into ecosystem health and pollution effects in West Falmouth Harbor.