2018 Volume 13 Issue 2 Pages 59-65
Hypoxia in bottom environments of coastal marine ecosystems is a serious problem adversely affecting both benthic life and local fisheries. In this study, we monitored abundance, composition, and feeding types of nematode communities under pre-, mid-, and post-hypoxic conditions in Omura Bay, Nagasaki, Japan, for three consecutive years (2013–2015). The bay is almost completely enclosed, and experiences hypoxia at the bottom every summer. A positive correlation was found between dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration and nematode abundance over the entire sampling period (p<0.05, r=0.61). The nematode community compositions among the pre-, mid-, and post-hypoxic conditions were significantly different (one-way analysis of similarities (ANOSIM), p<0.05), which suggests that DO in the bottom water acts as a major driver for the community shift. The increases in abundance of nematodes with toothless feeding apparatus in hypoxic periods, relative to normoxic periods, further suggested that the transfer of organic matter from bacteria through nematodes became more important in the bay under hypoxia than normoxia. It was also demonstrated that full recovery of nematode populations from hypoxic to normoxic conditions would require more than two weeks of continuous normoxic DO levels (>3 mg L−1). These findings will help us to understand how global trends of ocean deoxygenation could shape the meiobenthic community and alter benthic ecosystem functioning in coastal areas.