The difference in meiofauna community structure upstrea and downstream of the davidson river fish hatchery
Committee: Paul Bartels, Mark Brenner, Robert Hastings
The purpose of this study is to compare the meiofaunal community structure upstream and downstream of the Davidson River Fish Hatchery in Pisgah National Forest, in western North Carolina. The meiofauna observed in this study were chironomid midges, copepods, mites, nematodes, oligochaete worms, rotifers, and tardigrades. An unknown category was included for specimens that could not be identified to the phyla level. Sediment was collected upstream and downstream, but also collected at a shallow depth and a deep depth. Samples were quantified and analyzed statistically using parametric and non-parametric ANOVA and t-tests. The statistical analysis showed that there were significant differences in the meiofaunal community structure upstream and downstream, but no significant difference between shallow and deep samples. Oligochaete worms and tardigrades were more abundant downstream, while rotifers and copepods were more abundant upstream. While studying the tardigrade specimens collected, four were identified to be Dactylobiotus haplonyx, which is a genera of tardigrade that has not been documented in North America.
Initially, water quality measurements were taken to determine whether or not it had any effect on the distribution and abundance of meiofauna. However, the study failed to take into account other influential factors such as amount of sunlight and stream flow, therefore, water quality cannot be concluded to have an effect on meiofaunal community structure. It would be beneficial for further research to take into account these factors and to come to a more defined conclusion as to whether or not water quality has a significant effect on meiofauna.