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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 407:125-134 (2010)  -  DOI:

Occurrence and significance of copepod resting egg accumulation in seagrass sediments

Lindsay P. Scheef1,*, Nancy H. Marcus2

1Department of Oceanography and 2The Graduate School, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306, USA

ABSTRACT: The resting eggs produced by some species of marine calanoid copepods have been observed to accumulate on the seafloor in areas of high deposition and low resuspension. Seagrass beds are known to be environments that promote the accumulation of fine sestonic particles by inhibiting resuspension but have not been previously investigated as possible reservoirs for copepod resting eggs. Field sampling on a shallow reef in the northern Gulf of Mexico over 3 yr revealed that viable resting eggs of the copepod Acartia tonsa were significantly more abundant in seagrass-colonized sediment than in adjacent unvegetated sediment. Egg abundance differences between the 2 environment types occurred throughout each year. Differences tended to be greatest during the summer when the seagrass canopy was highest. These results suggest that the unique effects seagrass blades and rhizomes have on sediment stabilization may make seagrass beds important accumulation sites for resting copepod eggs in shallow areas subject to frequent disturbance. Seagrass-mediated resuspension events could therefore influence the population dynamics of some copepod species and may be essential for local copepod populations reliant on recruitment from benthic eggs. The effects that seagrass presence may have on the benthic distribution of resting stages produced by other species of zooplankton and phytoplankton should be evaluated, and the possible effects of resting stage accumulation in seagrass on plankton communities and whole ecosystems should be considered.

KEY WORDS: Copepod dormancy · Resting eggs · Particle trapping · Resuspension · Seagrass

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Cite this article as: Scheef LP, Marcus NH (2010) Occurrence and significance of copepod resting egg accumulation in seagrass sediments. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 407:125-134.

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