Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Species traits and resilience of meiofauna to floods and drought in a Mediterranean stream

Ainhoa Gaudes A C , Joan Artigas B and Isabel Muñoz A

A Departament d’Ecologia, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Avinguda Diagonal 645, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain.

B Institut d’Ecologia Aquàtica i Departament de Ciències Ambientals, Facultat de Ciències, Universitat de Girona, Campus Montilivi, E-17071 Girona, Spain.

C Corresponding author. Email: agaudes@ub.edu

Marine and Freshwater Research 61(11) 1336-1347 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF10044
Submitted: 19 February 2010  Accepted: 11 July 2010   Published: 16 November 2010

Abstract

In Mediterranean streams, droughts and floods are mainly seasonal and predictable, occurring twice or three times a year. Under these conditions, multivoltinism and short life-cycles would be favoured, particularly for organisms with low migratory capacity. The meiofaunal community is therefore hypothesised to have species traits adapted to these hydrological perturbations. However, meiofauna have been neglected in many lotic studies. The present study examined the temporal variability of meiofaunal density and biomass over a 2-year period in three reaches of a low-order Mediterranean stream. Relationships between biological traits and hydrological and environmental characteristics were investigated. Resilience of meiofauna to floods was quantified using regression. Small differences in basin drainage resulted in different responses. The abundance and resilience of the meiofauna were higher in the upstream reach than those in the downstream communities. A small, worm-shaped body and active locomotor structures conferred higher resilience in the face of natural hydrological disturbances. Low-order reaches are refugia for functionally important meiofauna that can eventually repopulate downstream reaches.

Additional keywords: disturbance, headwater, intermittent, meiofauna biomass, meiofauna density.


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