MEPS - Vol. 347 - Feature article

Uneven sediment topography on a tidal flat with mounds (top) created by Callianassa kraussi (bottom). Photos: G. M. Branch & Charles Griffiths

Pillay D, Branch GM, Forbes AT

 

Effects of Callianassa kraussi on microbial biofilms and recruitment of macrofauna: a novel hypothesis for adult-juvenile interactions

 

Burrowing sandprawns play key roles as ecosystem engineers in soft-sediment habitats, and determine the composition of soft-bottom assemblages through their extensive bioturbation. Pillay and co-workers have found that the southern African sandprawn Callianassa kraussi significantly retards growth of microbial biofilms and impedes the recruitment of juvenile macrofauna. Field manipulation of sediment biofilms demonstrated that these enhance recruitment, and C. kraussi thus structures macrofaunal assemblages through its biofilm-mediated effects on juvenile stages. This mechanism is an alternative to traditional views on the ways in which sandprawns influence macrofaunal communities.

 

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