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MEPS - Vol. 469 - Feature article
Gamarid amphipod feeding on pollen/mucilage of a male flower of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum at night. Photo: Brigitta I. van Tussenbroek

van Tussenbroek BI, Monroy-Velazquez LV, Solis-Weiss V

 

Meso-fauna foraging on seagrass pollen may serve in marine zoophilous pollination

 

Small invertebrates play a central role in seagrass communities as controllers of epiphyton and conduits for energy transfer from primary producers to higher trophic levels. Some invertebrates also interfere in the reproductive cycle of seagrasses through the consumption of seeds. Van Tussenbroek and collaborators highlight a new interaction between meso-grazers and seagrasses by describing the foraging of nocturnal invertebrates on the pollen/mucilage masses of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum. The fauna visiting the flowers was highly diverse and included 57 crustacean and 13 annelid species. Foraging behavior was observed on occasions, but consumption of the pollen was negligible and probably did not affect reproductive success of the seagrass. However, these invertebrates may serve as pollinators of T. testudinum, which if confirmed, makes this observation the first record of animal-pollination in the marine environment.

 

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