Date of Award
Bachelor of Science (BS)
College of Science
Eric T. Koepfler
The population of South Carolina has been steadily increasing for years, especially in coastal areas. In fact, Horry County, which contains Myrtle Beach, has shown a population increase of 37% in the last decade. With significant population increase comes a proportional increase in urbanization, defined by more industries, more buildings, and more natural areas encroached upon. Not only does urbanization physically impact the natural environment, there are also chemical impacts through the release of anthropogenic waste and chemicals. Through runoff and direct input, these chemicals can eventually reach the estuaries and may cause some changes in those communities. For this study, samples were obtained from the high and low marsh of four separate estuary locations, two anthropogenically impacted locations and two relatively pristine locations. These samples were then analyzed to obtain the abundances of the meiofauna groups that make up each community and compared to observe differences in community structure. It has been previously suggested that meiofauna can be used as environmental indicators of the pollution and overall health of an area, and it was expected that significant differences would be seen between the impacted and non-impacted locations. The results showed significant differences in community structure when non-impacted locations were compared to the impacted locations. Specifically, the most significant differences were seen with higher nematode abundance and lower copepod abundance in the impacted sites. Due to this difference, there was a higher nematode to copepod ratio in the impacted sites, which has been suggested to indicate a response to an anthropogenic impact. As nematodes are more resilient to chemical changes, they are able to increase in abundance while the copepods reproduction is negatively impacted by the pollution. With these results, it is apparent that more research must be done to see if another factor is influencing the meiofauna communities and, if not, what pollutants and what concentrations are causing the differences in the communities.
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Martinez, Melissa, "Anthropogenic Impact on Meiofauna in Myrtle Beach Area Estuaries" (2011). Honors Theses. 126.