Role of Diopatra Cuprea Bosc (Polychaeta: Onuphidae) Tubes in Structuring a Subtropical Infaunal Community
Abstract:An a priori hypothesis predicted that in the vicinity of aggregated Diopatra cuprea tubes an enhanced infaunal density and species richness would be found, resulting from a biological refuge effect of the tubes. To test this hypothesis, cores were taken over a 5-month period in both vegetated, Halodule wrightii Aschers. beds, and unvegetated areas of a site in the Indian River lagoon, Florida. An inner, 0.01 m2, frame was placed to enclose densities of 0, 1, or 4 D. cuprea tubes, while an outer concentric, 0.02 m2, frame was placed so that it enclosed the smaller frame, plus a surrounding area lacking in D. cuprea tubes. The presence of D. cuprea tubes was found to have no consistent significant effect on the abundance and number of infaunal species found in either the vegetated or unvegetated areas. Laboratory experiments employing a benthic predator, Callinectes, were carried out in order to determine whether D. cuprea tubes and/or H. wrightii rhizome mats actually constitute a barrier to predation. Significantly higher survivorship of the bivalve Mulinia lateralis Say, used as prey, was found in laboratory treatments containing 10 tubes per 0.01 m2 versus treatments containing 4 or 0 tubes per 0.01 m2. Highest survivorship of bivalves was found in treatments containing a H. wrightii rhizome mat; tubes placed within the mat did not enhance clam survivorship. The discrepancy between the findings of this study, and previous studies on the refuge effect of D. cuprea tubes which found evidence to support the refuge hypothesis, indicates that there may be a critical lower limit of tube density that is needed to establish an effective refuge. This density was not found at the Indian River study site and may account for the lack of an observed refuge effect in the field data.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1987-01-01
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