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Free Content Distribution of Macrofauna within Seagrass Beds: An Explanation for Patterns of Abundance

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An examination of macrofaunal microhabitats within a seagrass meadow was conducted in Apalachee Bay (north Florida). Core samples were taken from two substrata within the grassbed, Thalassia testudinum shoots and bare areas among the shoots, and compared with the fauna collected in randomly placed cores. Seagrass samples showed significantly greater numbers of individuals and species than the other two treatments. When compared with either bare substrate or random samples, four times the number of individuals and twice the number of species were collected in cores containing seagrass shoots. Random samples were not significantly different from samples taken on the bare substrate. Many of the species undersampled in randomly placed cores were epifaunal and closely associated with the vegetation present. Macrobenthic species were classified according to preferred microhabitat (seagrass, bare substrate or no preference). It is suggested that macrofaunal density and species richness estimates may be greatly affected by the distribution of plants within the grassbed. This study points out potential difficulties in macrofaunal estimates when the preferred microhabitat of the species under examination is undersampled.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1983-04-01

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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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