Sampling event

Meiofauna and Nematode abundance from the West Florida Escarpment, NOAA Hydrosmac project

Latest version published by United States Geological Survey on 28 September 2022 United States Geological Survey
Publication date:
28 September 2022
CC0 1.0

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Meiofauna higher taxa density (abundance per m2), and Nematode genera counts (100-150 individuals per slice) from multiple corer samples (0-5 cm sediment depth, Ocean Instruments MC800) taken during 2019 Research Vessel Point Sur expedition (#PS20-8) to the West Florida Slope and Escarpment, Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Conducted under the auspices of the NOAA funded (NA180AR0110285) project: Combining habitat suitability and physical oceanography for targeted discovery of new benthic communities on the west Florida slope (Hydrosmac).

Data Records

The data in this sampling event resource has been published as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), which is a standardized format for sharing biodiversity data as a set of one or more data tables. The core data table contains 146 records.

2 extension data tables also exist. An extension record supplies extra information about a core record. The number of records in each extension data table is illustrated below.

Event (core)

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How to cite

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Ingels J, Brooke S (2022): Meiofauna and Nematode abundance from the West Florida Escarpment, NOAA Hydrosmac project. v1.0. United States Geological Survey. Dataset/Samplingevent.


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GBIF Registration

This resource has been registered with GBIF, and assigned the following GBIF UUID: aba69a99-f9c9-45c5-b82e-385a59c0a8ce.  United States Geological Survey publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by U.S. Geological Survey.




Jeroen Ingels
  • Metadata Provider
  • Originator
  • Point Of Contact
Research Faculty
Florida State University, FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory
3618 Coastal Highway 98 St.
32358 Teresa
(850) 645 - 3490
Sandra Brooke
  • Originator
Research Faculty
Florida State University, FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory
3618 Coastal Highway 98 St.
32358 Teresa
(850) 645 - 3486
Abigail Benson
  • Processor
W 6th Ave Kipling St.
80225 Lakewood
Stephen Formel
  • Processor
W 6th Ave Kipling St.
80225 Lakewood

Geographic Coverage

West Florida Slope and Escarpment, Eastern Gulf of Mexico

Bounding Coordinates South West [25.922, -86.247], North East [27.98, -84.88]

Taxonomic Coverage

Meiofauna (>32um) identified to higher taxon level (phylum), and Free-living Nematoda (nematodes, roundworms) identified to genus level.

Phylum Arthropoda, Nematoda, Annelida, Platyhelminthes, Ciliophora, Loricifera, Kinorhyncha, Priapulida, Nemertea, Tardigrada, Gastrotricha, Cnidaria

Temporal Coverage

Start Date / End Date 2019-10-01 / 2019-10-18

Project Data

The eastern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) is dominated by a massive carbonate platform that slopes gently for over 200 km offshore before dipping sharply down to abyssal depths. The deep slope and escarpment of this platform is one of the least accessible places in the GOM; it is far from shore, very deep and is subject to high current conditions. Unlike the northern GOM, there has been little research effort in this region; however, in recent years several cruises (funded primarily by NOAA), conducted mapping and surveying of the west Florida slope (WFS) and in search of deep coral communities. The cruises revealed extensive deep coral habitats including large Lophelia reefs. Most of this work was on the upper slope (350-600 m). Further offshore, the slope steepens to form the WFE, which is virtually unexplored. The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer mapped and surveyed the WFE in 2014 and 2018, revealing dense coral communities, with different species assemblages from those on the upper slope. Pressure to protect DSC habitats has created a need to understand their distribution. To overcome the lack of data, modeling tools were developed that use data from known deep coral areas, and extrapolate those characteristics to unexplored areas. These Habitat Suitability Models are heavily influenced by coral records, so areas with limited data show low habitat suitability, which may not reflect the true distribution. These models may be further refined by incorporating coral-relevant variables such as current speed using data from oceanographic models. This combination of sophisticated models and known coral locations creates a more powerful predictive tool for science and management. From October 1st to 10th, a team of scientists from Florida State University (FSU), Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) and NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), sailed aboard the Research Vessel Point Sur and used the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Global Explorer to study benthic communities off the West Florida Escarpment (WFE). Our objectives were to generate new data on distribution of coral species in this understudied area, and to assess whether we can use meiofauna communities as indicators of ambient current regimes. We will work with NOAA collaborators to incorporate our data into their Habitat Suitability Models and to ‘ground truth’ oceanographic current models.

Title Hydrodynamics & Habitat Suitability for Meiofauna And Corals (HydroSMAC)
Identifier NA180AR0110285
Funding This study is funded by NOAAs Office of Ocean Exploration and Research under project NA180AR0110285.
Study Area Description Our mission focused on exploration of deep (>1,000m) habitats of the West Florida Escarpment, with particular emphasis on hard-bottom communities such as corals and sponges, and the tiny animals called meiofauna that live in sediments.

The personnel involved in the project:

Sandra Brooke

Sampling Methods

Samples were taken using an Ocean Instruments MC800 multicorer and ROV push cores (USGS loan, operated by ROV Global Explorer). Sixty samples were completely processed for meiofauna higher taxa and nematode genus identification using morphological taxonomy, following standard scientific meiofauna protocols (32 – 500 micrometer) and the latest taxonomic literature. Samples contained 0-5 surface sediment from all relevant stations (1473-2267 m water depth range). A total of 20,927 individuals were identified to higher meiofauna taxon level (50% of the total yield was subsampled). Of these, 5,128 nematodes were identified to genus level. Twenty-two meiofauna groups were recognized. A total of 129 nematode genera were identified. Buffered formalin (10 % = 4% formaldehyde) sediment samples were used to extract the meiofauna using standard procedures (Heip et al., 1985; 32–500 μm sieves, LUDOX HS as centrifugation medium) to separate the organisms from the sediment particles. Fifty percent of all meiofauna were counted and between 100 and 150 nematode individuals were picked out randomly from each sample, transferred to anhydrous glycerol (Seinhorst, 1959) and mounted on slides. Meiofauna specimen preservation method: Buffered formalin (10%), stained with Rose Bengal Nematode Specimen preservation method: Buffered formalin (10%), stained with Rose Bengal, and mounted on glass slides with anhydrous glycerol

Study Extent Sediment samples were taken during the RV Point Sur expedition to the West Florida Slope and Escarpment, Eastern Gulf of Mexico (PS20-8, U. Southern Mississippi/LUMCON; IMO WSC2276) October 1-18, 2019.
Quality Control All meiofauna were identified under a stereoscopic microscope (50x magnification), and nematodes were identified under a compound microscope (1000× magnification) to genus level using Platt and Warwick (1988), the latest taxonomic literature, and the NeMys nematode database and identification keys (; linked to World Register of Marine Species). Specimens that could not be identified to the genus level were assigned to the appropriate higher taxon level.

Method step description:

  1. See sampling description and quality control fields.

Collection Data

Collection Name Meiofauna and nematode samples from #PS20-8 NOAA Hydrosmac (NA180AR0110285) West Florida Slope and Escarpment, Eastern Gulf of Mexico, held at Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory, St Teresa, Florida, USA
Specimen preservation methods Formalin,  Microscopic preparation