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Helgoland Marine Research

Open Access

Meiofaunal emergence from intertidal sediment measured in the field: significant contribution to nocturnal planktonic biomass in shallow waters

  • W. Armonies1
Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen43:BF02365548


Field studies on the occurrence of meiobenthos in the water column above intertidal sandflats have been performed near the Island of Sylt in the northern Wadden Sea. Swimming meiobenthos was strongly dominated by harpacticoid copepods. Many of them have a semiplanktonic life-style. They rest in superficial sediment layers at low tide and swin in the water column at high tide. Swimming activity correlated negatively with light. The abundance in the water column was one order of magnitude higher during the night. Strong currents caused by storm tides significantly decreased meiobenthic abundance in the water column. Light and flow being constant, no significant changes of meiobenthic abundance per unit area occurred over a tidal cycle. Since holoplankton and meroplankton abundances correlated positively with the height of the water column, semiplanktonic meiobenthos may dominate the mesozooplankton in shallow waters. On an average, emergence of meiobenthos increased the mesozooplanktonic biomass by about 2% during diurnal high tides over the entire tidal cycle, and by about 50% during nocturnal high tides. Because of seasonal cycles of the dominant harpacticoids, this high contribution to planktonic biomass may be a summer phenomenon.


Water ColumnShallow WaterHigh TideTidal CycleSwimming Activity