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Community development of free-living aquatic nematodes in littoral periphyton communities

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For more content, see Nematologica.

The development of an epilithic nematode community and the mode of colonisation was monitored over a 57-day period during spring in a field experiment in the littoral zone of a large oligotrophic lake. Two types of experimental units were used: one type prohibited direct colonisation via active crawling by elevating substrates into the water column and the second type had substrates placed on the lake bottom. Data from the two types of units and from nearby natural hard substrates were compared. The nematodes quickly colonised on the introduced substrates and reached maximum densities of 123 individuals per 10 cm2 after 57 days. Nematode densities on elevated and non-elevated substrates did not differ significantly. The nematode abundance and community structure showed a large initial variation, but became more stable over time and resembled the natural community structure at the end of the experiment. The maximum number of nematode species was reached after 2 weeks of colonisation, with a maximum species number on days 12 and 14 in the experimental units and on day 19 on the surrounding natural hard substrates. The five numerically dominant species, Eumonhystera vulgaris, Chromadorina bioculata, Eumonhystera filiformis, Chromadorina viridis and Daptonema dubium, accounted for most of the variation between the different communities. The results indicate that water-column transport was the main colonisation pathway of epilithic nematodes. The distribution of nematode species points to potential morphological adaptations of some species for persistence on hard substrates.


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