Integrated Marine Information System (IMIS)

Persons | Institutes | Publications | Projects | Datasets
[ report an error in this record ]basket (0): add | show Print this page

Meiofauna life on loggerhead sea turtles-diversely structured abundance and biodiversity hotspots that challenge the meiofauna paradox
Ingels, J.; Valdes, Y.; Pontes, L.P.; Silva, A.C.; Neres, P.F.; Corrêa, G.V.V.; Silver-Gorges, I.; Fuentes, M.M.P.B.; Gillis, A.; Hooper, L.; Ware, M.; O’Reilly, C.; Bergman, Q.; Danyuk, J.; Sanchez Zarate, S.; Acevedo Natale, L.I.; dos Santos, G.A.P. (2020). Meiofauna life on loggerhead sea turtles-diversely structured abundance and biodiversity hotspots that challenge the meiofauna paradox. Diversity 12(5): 203.
In: Diversity. MDPI: Basel. ISSN 1424-2818; e-ISSN 1424-2818
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    sea turtles; loggerheads; marine biodiversity; meiofauna; epibionts; Florida; Gulf of Mexico; meiofauna paradox; nematodes; Nematoda; hotspots; phoresis

Authors  Top 
  • Ingels, J., more
  • Valdes, Y.
  • Pontes, L.P.
  • Silva, A.C.
  • Neres, P.F.
  • Corrêa, G.V.V.
  • Silver-Gorges, I.
  • Fuentes, M.M.P.B.
  • Gillis, A.
  • Hooper, L.
  • Ware, M.
  • O’Reilly, C.
  • Bergman, Q.
  • Danyuk, J.
  • Sanchez Zarate, S.
  • Acevedo Natale, L.I.
  • dos Santos, G.A.P.

    Sea turtles migrate thousands of miles annually between foraging and breeding areas, carrying dozens of epibiont species with them on their journeys. Most sea turtle epibiont studies have focused on large-sized organisms, those visible to the naked eye. Here, we report previously undocumented levels of epibiont abundance and biodiversity for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), by focusing on the microscopic meiofauna. During the peak of the 2018 loggerhead nesting season at St. George Island, Florida, USA, we sampled all epibionts from 24 carapaces. From the subsamples, we identified 38,874 meiofauna individuals belonging to 20 higher taxa. This means 810,753 individuals were recovered in our survey, with an average of 33,781 individuals per carapace. Of 6992 identified nematodes, 111 different genera were observed. To our knowledge, such levels of sea turtle epibiont abundance and diversity have never been recorded. Loggerhead carapaces are without doubt hotspots of meiofaunal and nematode diversity, especially compared to other non-sedimentary substrates. The posterior carapace sections harbored higher diversity and evenness compared to the anterior and middle sections, suggesting increased colonization and potentially facilitation favoring posterior carapace epibiosis, or increased disturbance on the anterior and middle carapace sections. Our findings also shed new light on the meiofauna paradox: “How do small, benthic meiofauna organisms become cosmopolitan over large geographic ranges?” Considering high loggerhead epibiont colonization, the large distances loggerheads migrate for reproduction and feeding, and the evolutionary age and sheer numbers of sea turtles worldwide, potentially large-scale exchange and dispersal for meiofauna through phoresis is implied. We distinguished different groups of loggerhead carapaces based on divergent epibiont communities, suggesting distinct epibiont colonization processes. These epibiont observations hold potential for investigating loggerhead movements and, hence, their conservation.

All data in the Integrated Marine Information System (IMIS) is subject to the VLIZ privacy policy Top | Authors