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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 442 - Feature article
Feeding activity of larvae of the stem-borer moth Haimbachia sp. nov. drives detritus production from tidal Spartina marshes. Image: A.D. Canepuccia, J.L. Farina

Canepuccia AD, Montemayor D, Pascual J, Farina JL, Iribarne OO


A stem-boring moth drives detritus production in SW Atlantic marshes


Tidal marshes are sources of organic matter (OM) for coastal habitats. Primary productivity and tides are among the principal causes of OM production and export from tidal marshes. Canepuccia and colleagues examined the drivers of spatio-temporal variability in the detritus production by Spartina marshes at different sites on the Atlantic coast of Argentina. They found that herbivory by the stem-borer moth Haimbachia sp. nov. weakens the stem base, leading to breakage and tidal transport of the grass. The amount of OM flow between habitats varies regionally, depending on the frequency of moth attack frequencies. These results highlight the importance of biological interactions in modifying OM flow between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.


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