Meiofaunal abundance, biomass and secondary production were investigated over 13 months in an unpolluted first-order stream. Four microhabitats were considered: sediment and the biofilms on dead wood, macrophytes and leaf litter. The relative contribution of the microhabitats to secondary production and the influence of environmental factors on meiofaunal density distribution were estimated. We expected (1) meiofaunal abundance and biomass to exhibit seasonal patterns, with more pronounced seasonal fluctuations on macrophytes and leaf litter than in the other microhabitats, (2) annual secondary production to be highest in sediment; however, the relative contribution of the microhabitats to monthly secondary production would change during the year, and (3) a bottom-up driven influence on meiofaunal density distribution in the microhabitats. Meiofaunal annual mean abundance, biomass and secondary production were 7–14 times higher in sediment and on dead wood than on macrophytes and leaf litter. Significant seasonal patterns described the meiofaunal abundance in sediment and on leaf litter as well as the biomass in sediment, on macrophytes and leaf litter. Organisms in sediment and on dead wood contributed 48 and 43%, respectively, to secondary production m−2, but in regard to the stream area covered by the microhabitats, sediment had the highest share (80%). Significant determinants of the density distribution were AFDM, protozoans, bacteria and Chl-a, which influenced all meiofaunal groups. Our study clearly indicates that meiofaunal organisms in sediment and on dead wood have a remarkable share on total secondary production of lotic systems which is especially relevant for forested low-order streams.
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