We developed a time dynamic model to investigate the temporal dynamics of nematode community in the brackish zone of the Westerschelde Estuary. The biomass of four nematode feeding groups observed from March 1991 to February 1992 is used to calibrate the model. Using environmental data as the input, the model predicts the temporal modification and interrelation of four nematode feeding groups. Nematodes achieve a dominant position in the community because of their lower loss rate (in respiration, excretion and natural death). Predators which are deposit-feeding macrobenthos control the variations of dominant nematodes, such as omnivores and non-selective deposit feeders. Food availability causes modification only for rare nematodes such as epigrowth feeders and selective deposit feeders. Temperature is a factor affecting both predation death and a loss including respiration, excretion and natural death. Overall, the modification of nematode community by food availability is much lower than by predator. The macrobenthos in the Westerschelde Estuary decrease from upstream to the estuarine mouth. The stability and standing stock of nematode population follow the opposite gradient of their predators. They increase from upstream to the estuarine mouth. [KEYWORDS: estuary ecosystems; nematodes; population dynamics Marine nematodes; growth-rate; meiofauna; temperature; respiration; predation; diatoms; ecology; light; food]
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcological Modelling
Journal publication date1996

ID: 50821