Meiofauna of Barrier Island Beaches of the Southeastern US

Department of Natural Resources

College of Life Sciences and Agriculture

University of New Hampshire



Historical, Population and Trophic Connections in Meiofaunal Communities of North Carolina Barrier Island Beaches:

A Collaborative Project (Fegley - University of North Carolina, Smith - Winthrop University, and Litvaitis - University of New Hampshire)

Despite decades of effort using traditional field and microscopic techniques, many structural and functional aspects of meiofauna communities remain poorly known. New approaches are required if we are to advance our understanding of the ubiquitous meiofauna and assess their role in providing ecosystem services. This collaborative project combines systematic, genetic and ecological approaches to uncover species diversity, community sturcture, and trophic relationships of meiofaunal turbellarians in exposed barrier island beaches of North Carolina. Specifically, we are surveying meiofaunal turbellarians and comparing their current community composition to that of 35-40 years ago using a unique historical data set. We also are determining predator-prey relationships using a novel approach involving predator DNA-blocking primers. Finally, we are also determining the fine- and medium-scale population genetic structure of select taxa.

Publications and Presentations:

  • Whitson A, Smith JPS, Litvaitis MK. 2011. Lehardyia alleithoros, sp. nov. (Turbellaria, Kalyptorhynchia) from the coast of North Carolina, USA. Southeast Nat 10: 221-232 (abstract)
  • Bursey J, Garham L, Smith JPS, Litvaitis MK. 2012. Philosyrtis hannahfloydae n. sp. (Proseriata: Otoplanidae) from the Coast of North Carolina, USA.Poster presentation, annual meetings of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Charleston, SC
  • Bursey J, Smith JPS, Litvaitis MK. 2012. Kataplana celertrix n. sp. (Platyhelminthes: Proseriata: Otoplanidae) from the Coast of North Carolina, USA. Zootaxa 3184: 59-63 (pdf)
  • Maghsoud H, Weiss A, Smith JPS, Litvaitis MK, Fegley SR. 2012. Diagnostic PCR can be used to illuminate meiofaunal diets and trophic relationships. Invert Biol 133: 121-127 (abstract)
  • Smith JPS, Litvaitis MK, Tessens B, Artois T, Doe D, Roberts D. 2013. A preliminary phylogeny for the Schizorhynchia: Molecules and morphology. Fifteenth International Meiofauna Conference, Seoul, Korea, July 2013
  • Magshoud H, Smith JPS, Litvaitis MK, Weiss A, Fegley S. 2013. Analysis of meiofaunal flatworm diets by diagnostic PCR: Untangling the food web. Fifteenth International Meiofauna Conference, Seoul, Korea, July 2013
  • Smith JPS, Tessens B, Litvaitis MK, Artois T, Doe D. 2014. A phylogeny for Schizorhynchia: Molecules must guide morphology. International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology 3, Berlin, Germany, August 2014
  • Smith JPS, McDaniel K, Geranmayeh P, Fegley S, Litvaitis MK. 2014. Untangeling the meiofauna food web. World Conference on Marine Biodiversity 2014, Qingdao, China, October 2014
  • Smith JPS, Litvaitis MK, Gobert S, Uyeno T, Artois T. 2015. Evolution and functional morphology of the proboscis in Kalyptorhynchia (Platyhelminthes). Integrative and Comparative Biology 55: 205-216



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