The present proposal aims at creating and establishing a research line in meiofauna ecology at the Marine Biology Center of the University of São Paulo (CEBIMar-USP), and to initiate technicians and students in this research line. The proposal consists of two subprojects. The first subproject aims at understanding small- and large-scale spatial-temporal variability of meiofauna communities, particularly nematode assemblages, in several coastal habitats from São Paulo, and identifying the structuring environmental factors at the different scales. This subproject also aims at quantifying the contribution of different coastal habitats to the regional diversity and identifying hotspots of biodiversity. In order to reach these objectives, hierarchical sampling designs will be applied. The second subproject, complimentary to the first, aims at combining field studies and manipulative laboratory experiments to access the effects of contaminants accumulated on sediments on meiofauna communities from distinct habitats. By means of field studies, relationships between fauna features and different contaminants will be identified and used to postulate hypotheses of cause and effect. These hypotheses will be tested by means of laboratory experiments, where different variables will be controlled thus allowing the establishment of causative relationships. Data from the field and laboratory will be combined in order to compare the short- and long-term dynamics of pollutants over meiofauna communities and to evaluate the potential of the meiofauna as ecological indicator of environmental status. The proposed research line will significantly contribute to the knowledge of biodiversity at this coastal region, and will open new perspectives for ecological studies, conservation and sustainable monitoring of the coastal ecosystems from the State of São Paulo.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: