MEPS 229:137-149 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps229137

Colonisation by epibionts and meiofauna of real and mimic pneumatophores in a cool temperate mangrove habitat

J. Gwyther1,*, P. G. Fairweather2,**

1School of Ecology and Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria 3217, Australia
2School of Ecology and Environment, Deakin University, Warrnambool, Victoria 3280, Australia
*Corresponding author. E-mail: **Present address: School of Biological Sciences, The Flinders University of South Australia, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia

ABSTRACT: The size and pace of change in meiofaunal assemblages suggest that meiofauna make excellent subjects for testing theories about how ecological communities change. A field experiment was performed in which the abundance and composition of epibionts and meiofauna on natural, transplanted and mimic pneumatophores were monitored over a 47 wk period. Meiofaunal density increased with growth of algal epibionts, both reaching maximum values after 24 wk, at the end of winter. At this time the assemblages from the 3 substrata were similar, although the combined abundances of meiofauna on transplants and mimics were only 28% of the average on natural pneumatophores. Meiofaunal abundance on all substrata decreased rapidly during spring as algal cover declined due to desiccation. Twenty-three species of nematode were recorded from mimics compared with 8 and 7 from transplants and pneumatophores, respectively. A temporal sequence of feeding groups occurred in the order of epigrowth feeders, deposit feeders, and omnivore/predators, with the latter 2 adding to rather than replacing earlier trophic groups. Scavengers were found only on natural pneumatophores. The turnover rates of nematode species between all census times were similar, peaking at 63%, but there was no trend in the turnover rates with time. We conclude that mimics are more suitable than transplanted pneumatophores for colonisation studies because of their greater persistence and more easily standardised surface area. Moreover, the composition of colonising assemblages on them closely resembled assemblages on natural pneumatophores at the time of peak meiofaunal abundance.

KEY WORDS: Algae · Avicennia marina · Barnacles · Barwon estuary · Copepods · Field experiment · Mimic · Nematodes · Succession · Victoria

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