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Free Content Community Composition, Stability, and Trophic Partitioning in Decapod Crustaceans Inhabiting Some Subtropical Sabellariid Worm Reefs

Studies on Decapod Crustacea from the Indian River Region of Florida. IV

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A 2-year study consisting of quantitative and qualitative collections, both day (1974) and night (1975), was made on the decapod and stomatopod crustaceans inhabiting, or associating peripherally with, some sabellariid worm reefs on the central eastern Florida coast. The reefs investigated all occurred in the surf zone or just inside dredged and maintained inlets of the Indian River region, from St. Lucie Inlet northward to Sebastian Inlet. Quantitative and qualitative sampling indicated that at least 96 species of decapod and stomatopod crustaceans, in 52 genera and 22 families, may occur within, or in habitats adjacent to, the sabellariid biotope. The Quantitative Survey obtained 51 species, 10–11 of which comprised nearly 90% of all collected individuals, and were sufficiently recurrent to be labelled common. These 10–11, plus the next 13 species in abundance (= 24) contained 97% of all collected individuals and were considered characteristic of the decapod and stomatopod fauna on central eastern Florida sabellariid reefs. The remaining 27 species accounted for approximately 3% of all collected individuals and were designated as uncommon. The sabellariid-inhabiting macrocrustacean community is dominated numerically by three species, the porcellanid crab Pachycheles monilifer, and the xanthid and grapsid crabs, Menippe nodifrons and Pachygrapsus transversus, respectively. Together, these three species made up 65% of all collected individuals obtained during quantitative sampling. Three other species, the pistol shrimp Synalpheus fritzmuelleri, and the xanthid crabs Pilumnus dasypodus and Panopeus bermudensis, accounted for another 15% of all individuals collected from these reefs. Species composition and relative abundance and occurrence of the numerically important decapod crustaceans on these reefs was similar over both years of the study. Nutritional modes among the first three species suggested that trophic partitioning occurs. Gut content analyses and predator-prey relationships among the six most numerous species indicated that all feed to some extent on the sabellariid worms which construct the substratum of the biotope. The sabellariid bioherm thus offers hard substratum, protection, and food for these decapod species allowing them to utilize the surf zone habitat, an area where they would not normally be found. Persistence of the sabellariid biotope, and predictability of decapod species composition may account in some measure for the observed stability in the decapod community on these reefs. Two of the three most abundant species, Pachycheles monilifer and Menippe nodifrons, are zoogeographically limited in their northern range to the Indian River region of Florida, and neither of these species occurs in large numbers outside of the sabellariid biotope. Their distribution along the central eastern Florida coastline appears to follow that of the sabellariid worm itself.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1978-04-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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