Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

Biology, MS

Committee Chair

Emery, Sarah M.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Yanoviak, Steve

Committee Member

Withers, Kim


Meiofauna; Hydrocarbons--Environmental aspects; Salinity--Environmental aspects


Coastal areas around the world are subjected to numerous disturbances, both natural and anthropogenic. Coastal meiofauna are an ecologically important group of organisms that may be sensitive to disturbance and especially useful as indicators of habitat status following anthropogenic disturbances. In this research, I compared the effects of five different intensity levels of hydrocarbon contamination, salinity reduction, and random non-disturbance diversity manipulation on communities of marine meiofauna communities in a microcosm experiment. While I did find the expected negative relationship between intensity and morphogroup diversity in the random treatment, the hydrocarbon and salinity disturbance treatments had no effects on overall diversity, dominance, abundance, richness or community composition. I propose three biological explanations for the lack of a relationship: (i) the communities were not at a late enough successional stage when they were exposed to the disturbances; (ii) the disturbances I tested are not important in structuring the meiofaunal community used in my microcosms; or (iii) ecological theories focused of disturbance, in particular the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, may be generally flawed. For the purposes of impact assessment of oil spills and discharge events, meiofauna are probably a relatively poor indicator group.

Included in

Biology Commons