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6 December 2011 The relationship between epilithic biofilm stability and its associated meiofauna under two patterns of flood disturbance
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Abstract

Habitat stability is an important driver of ecological community composition and development. River epilithic biofilms are particularly unstable habitats for the establishment of benthic communities because they are regularly disturbed by floods. Our aim was to determine the influence of habitat instability on meiobenthic organisms. We hypothesized that hydrologic variables are the most important predictors of meiofauna distribution. We monitored epilithic communities (meiofauna and microalgae) with a high sampling frequency during 2 sampling periods with contrasting hydrodynamic patterns in a temperate river (the Garonne, France). Nematodes and rotifers dominated meiofaunal assemblages. The critical flow velocity threshold for their maintenance in the biofilm was ∼30 cm/s, a result suggesting that meiofauna can resist higher flow velocity within the biofilm than within sediments. Nematode distribution was primarily influenced by the duration of undisturbed periods, whereas rotifer distribution was also correlated with the thickness of the biofilm. During the periods after floods, rotifers were faster colonizers than nematodes. Collectively, our results show that flow regime was an essential driver for biofilm community development.

Society for Freshwater Science
Nabil Majdi, Benoît Mialet, Stéphanie Boyer, Michèle Tackx, Joséphine Leflaive, Stéphanie Boulêtreau, Loïc Ten-Hage, Frédéric Julien, Robert Fernandez, and Evelyne Buffan-Dubau "The relationship between epilithic biofilm stability and its associated meiofauna under two patterns of flood disturbance," Freshwater Science 31(1), 38-50, (6 December 2011). https://doi.org/10.1899/11-073.1
Received: 6 June 2011; Accepted: 1 September 2011; Published: 6 December 2011
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