Metazoan meiofauna abundance in relation to environmental variables in the northern Gulf of Mexico deep sea
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In order to more fully understand the distribution of meiofauna and how they respond to topographic, geochemical and physical forcing in the northern Gulf of Mexico, meiofauna abundance and environmental variables were analyzed in a hypothesis-based univariate and multivariate design. Meiofauna abundance was significantly related to water depth, but also exhibited significant longitudinal differences resulting from proximity to Mississippi River outflow. Canyon features in proximity of Mississippi River outflow were found to greatly enhance meiofauna abundance. The Florida Escarpment interacts with Mississippi River outflow and the Loop Current to enhance meiofauna abundance at stations lying directly above and below the escarpment. Multivariate comparisons of meiofauna abundance with environmental variables revealed a strong Mississippi River influence. River outflow alters local sediment characteristics, and interacts with loop current eddies and dynamic slope topography to increase particulate organic matter flux in the northeastern region, thus creating areas of higher than normal meiofauna abundance. 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.