Inter-Research > MEPS > v442 > p263-269  

MEPS 442:263-269 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09446

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Strong effects of herbivorous amphipods on epiphyte biomass in a temperate seagrass meadow

Kylie Cook1,*, Mathew A. Vanderklift1, Alistair G. B. Poore2

1CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, Private Bag 5, Wembley, Western Australia 6913, Australia
2Evolution and Ecology Research Centre & School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia

ABSTRACT: The experimental manipulation of large marine herbivores (urchins, gastropods and fish) has repeatedly demonstrated their strong influence on the abundance and composition of benthic primary producers. However, the effects of smaller herbivores (amphipods, isopods and small gastropods) on community structure are not as well understood. We used a cageless technique (a slow-release insecticide) to exclude amphipods from seagrass meadows to test for their effects on epiphyte and seagrass biomass. Lower amphipod densities in a Posidonia sinuosa meadow after 7 wk were associated with 25% higher epiphyte biomass—evidence of a strong influence by amphipods on seagrass epiphytes. In an Amphibolis spp. meadow, lower amphipod densities showed a non-significant trend to increase leaf epiphytes, but did not affect stem epiphyte biomass. Effects of amphipod exclusion on seagrass biomass were not detected in either meadow. Our results indicate that natural densities of amphipods can reduce epiphyte biomass on seagrasses, but that their impacts may vary across seagrass meadows. A challenge for future research is to identify the conditions under which small marine herbivores are likely to influence the biomass of primary producers.


KEY WORDS: Herbivory · Mesograzer · Amphipods · Seagrass · Epiphytes · Field exclusion


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Cite this article as: Cook K, Vanderklift MA, Poore AGB (2011) Strong effects of herbivorous amphipods on epiphyte biomass in a temperate seagrass meadow. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 442:263-269. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09446

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