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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 607:85-98 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12783

Artificial structures versus mangrove prop roots: a general comparison of epifaunal communities within the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA

Dean S. Janiak1,*, Richard W. Osman2, Christopher J. Freeman1, Valerie J. Paul1

1Smithsonian Marine Station, Ft. Pierce, Florida 34949, USA
2Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, Maryland 21037, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Urbanized coastal landscapes are becoming increasingly widespread throughout the world, and as a result, essential habitat is being replaced with artificial structures. Mangroves are threatened globally, and crucial ecosystem functions are being lost (e.g. habitat/refuge for associated species). There remains a lack of understanding of how artificial structures function as habitat compared to natural substrates, particularly those being lost, such as mangrove prop roots. The objectives of this study were to compare benthic epifaunal communities on artificial structures to those on mangrove prop roots across a large spatial scale and to assess seasonal trends of colonizing species within each habitat. Identified species were also classified as either native or non-native to assess whether artificial structures harbor more non-natives compared to mangroves. Results indicated that community composition differed significantly between habitat types, as did richness and diversity. More species were found and in higher percent cover on artificial structures. Only a few species were dominant throughout the study and were present in both habitats, and these species varied in their abundance across sites and time. Colonization at all sites was continuous throughout each season, particularly for those dominant species. Non-native species richness made up 30-50% of the community composition in each of the habitats and was significantly higher on artificial structures. Overall, artificial structures appeared to provide a functional, unique surface for both dominant and rare species and could act as a buffer to biodiversity loss in mangroves, a globally threatened habitat.


KEY WORDS: Artificial structures · Mangroves · Indian River Lagoon · Non-native · Epifauna


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Cite this article as: Janiak DS, Osman RW, Freeman CJ, Paul VJ (2018) Artificial structures versus mangrove prop roots: a general comparison of epifaunal communities within the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 607:85-98. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12783

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