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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 214:161-165 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps214161

An improved protocol for separating meiofauna from sediments using colloidal silica sols

Robert Burgess*

University of Texas Marine Science Institute, 750 Channelview Drive, Port Aransas, Texas 78737, USA

ABSTRACT: A new isopycnic separation technique was developed to minimize the effect of sediment granulometry on extraction efficiency of benthic meiofauna. The method uses colloidal silica Ludox® (DuPont) HS 40 as a high density solution to extract meiofaunal organisms from sediment. Previous protocols using silica sols have had problems with physical interactions between the sediment and the specimens, causing large variations in extraction efficiencies between sediment types. The procedure presented herein reduces this problem by the addition of a 5 min period of fluidization of the sediment. The time used to complete the method is minimized with a final centrifugation step, which accelerates the settling rate of the fine sediment, resulting in a total time required for separation of approximately 20 min. Forty-eight samples were processed, with sediments ranging from sand to silty clay. The average extraction efficiency was 96.8 ± 3.9% for the total meiofaunal abundance. Extraction efficiency was independent of sediment granulometry over the range of sediments tested.

KEY WORDS: Meiofauna · Isopycnic separation · Flotation separation · Silica sol · Ludox® technique

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