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Confluence of anthropogenic influences is common in coastal areas (e.g., disposal of different pollutants like industrial and domestic sewage, brine, etc.). In this study we assessed whether the combined disposal of domestic sewage and brine altered patterns in the abundance and assemblage structure of subtidal meiofauna inhabiting sandy seabeds. Samples were collected in May 2008 and January 2009 at varying distances (0, 15, and 30 m) from the discharge point. Meiofaunal abundances were consistently larger at 0 m (1663.05 ± 1076.86 ind 10 cm–2, mean ± standard error) than at 15 m (471.21 ± 307.97 ind 10 cm–2) and 30 m (316.50 ± 256.85 ind 10 cm–2) from the discharge outfall. This pattern was particularly accentuated for nematodes. Proximity to the discharge point also altered patterns in meiofaunal assemblage structure, though temporal shifts in the sedimentary composition also contributed to explain differences in the meiofaunal assemblage structure. As a result, meiofauna may be a reliable tool for monitoring studies of the combined disposal of sewage and brine as long as potential confounding factors (here temporal changes in grain size composition) are considered.
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