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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 647:79-92 (2020)  -  DOI:

Ecosystem functioning of canopy- and turf- forming algae: contrasting supply of invertebrate prey to pelagic consumers

Carla K. Figueiredo1,2, Rafael C. Duarte3, Augusto A. V. Flores1,*

1Center for Marine Biology - University of São Paulo, 11612-109 São Sebastião, SP, Brazil
2Department of Biology - Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Letters of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, 14040-901 Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
3Federal University of ABC - 09606-045 São Bernardo do Campo, SP, Brazil
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Macroalgal canopies are declining worldwide and are being replaced by low-lying algal turfs which frequently dominate reefscapes. Their loss may impact reef ecosystems in different ways, including the collapse of small canopy-dwelling invertebrates, and thus the decline of juvenile reef fish that prey on them. To evaluate this potential loss, we assessed (1) the differences between the mobile invertebrate assemblages associated with turf-forming (filamentous and articulated coralline turf) and canopy-forming (Sargassum spp. and Dichotomaria marginata) algae, and (2) the mechanisms underlying those contrasts by examining the invertebrate community assembly of filamentous turf and Sargassum spp. over the main canopy season. Abundance, biomass and diversity almost always differed between canopies and turfs (although not in a consistent way across sampling sites), while differences within canopy and turf algal types were nearly absent. The structure of invertebrate assemblages differed more consistently between canopies and turfs, with certain hard-bodied and soft-bodied invertebrates characterizing canopies and turfs, respectively. This divergence increased as the canopy season advanced. While no temporal changes occurred in turf invertebrate assemblages, clear temporal dynamics occurred in the invertebrate fauna associated with Sargassum. Brittle stars and amphipods were most abundant as early colonizers, followed by hard-shelled gastropods, bivalves and ostracods. By the end of the season, these groups became dominant and decreased diversity in the canopy habitat. As hard-shelled prey are preferred items for the main invertivore fish species in the area, results suggest that canopies may play an important role in the provisioning of trophic resources to pelagic consumers.

KEY WORDS: Ecosystem engineering · Phase-shifts · Competition · Ecological succession · Reef fish

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Cite this article as: Figueiredo CK, Duarte RC, Flores AAV (2020) Ecosystem functioning of canopy- and turf- forming algae: contrasting supply of invertebrate prey to pelagic consumers. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 647:79-92.

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