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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 406:91-104 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08534

Spatial variation in the composition of motile macroinvertebrate assemblages associated with two bed types of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica

Joseph A. Borg1,2,*, Ashley A. Rowden1,3, Martin J. Attrill1, Patrick J. Schembri2, Malcolm B. Jones1

1Marine Biology & Ecology Research Centre, Marine Institute, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK
2Department of Biology, University of Malta, Msida MSD2080, Malta
3Present address: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, PO Box 14-901, Wellington 6241, New Zealand

ABSTRACT: The influence of continuous (non-fragmented) and reticulate (fragmented) bed type and plant architecture on the species richness, abundance and assemblage composition of motile macroinvertebrates associated with the seagrass Posidonia oceanica was investigated at 3 different spatial scales (10s of metres [‘small’], 100s of metres [‘medium’] and kilometres [‘large’]). Univariate and multivariate analyses did not identify significant differences in the attributes of macroinvertebrate assemblages between the 2 P. oceanica bed types over the 3 spatial scales considered. On the other hand, significant spatial variation in macroinvertebrate attributes was detected at the large spatial scale. Results of univariate regression and multivariate correlation analysis consistently indicated significant relationships between attributes of the macroinvertebrate assemblages and epiphyte biomass at the large spatial scale. Although less consistent, significant relationships were also detected between attributes of the macroinvertebrate assemblages, and mean sediment grain size, total organic carbon in sediment and shoot biomass at the large and medium spatial scales. The findings indicate that naturally fragmented and non-fragmented P. oceanica beds have similar habitat characteristics for the associated macroinvertebrates and that local factors, which influence seagrass bed architecture and particularly epiphyte load, have greater influence on the seagrass fauna. Data from the present study support the notion that fragmented seagrass beds should receive the same attention as non-fragmented ones with regard to habitat conservation and protection.


KEY WORDS: Landscape ecology · Habitat fragmentation · Macroinvertebrates · Posidonia oceanica · Seagrass beds · Seagrass epiphytes


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Cite this article as: Borg JA, Rowden AA, Attrill MJ, Schembri PJ, Jones MB (2010) Spatial variation in the composition of motile macroinvertebrate assemblages associated with two bed types of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 406:91-104. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08534

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