Date of Award

Spring 1997

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biological Sciences


Ecological Sciences

Committee Director

Daniel M. Dauer

Committee Member

Raymond W. Alden III

Committee Member

Mark W. Luckenbach


This study investigates whether active processes participate in the settlement of marine benthic nematodes. The settling rates of three estuarine benthic nematode taxa were examined in a linear flume using two treatments defined by the type of sediment bed placed in the flume. One treatment bed contained sediments rendered "unattractive" by boiling. The other treatment bed contained unaltered "attractive" sediment. Preliminary still water choice experiments confirmed the attractive and unattractive properties of these sediment treatments with each taxon. Recolonization trays placed in the field confirmed that each taxon did disperse in the water column. One taxon (Theristus sp?) exhibited significantly higher settling velocities over the attractive sediment bed than the unattractive sediment bed. Although like most other benthic nematode taxa, Theristus sp? does not swim, its active behavior, coiling ability, a body length over 1 mm, and weak adhesive glands may be factors that enable or enhance its settling rate over attractive sediments or retard settling rates over unattractive sediments.


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