The Influence of Habitat Structure in Faunal-Habitat Associations in a Tampa Bay Seagrass System, Florida
This study examined the distribution patterns of epifaunal associates of two species of seagrass, Syringodium filiforme and Ruppia maritima, and two drift algae, Gracilaria sp. and Spyridia sp. Pericarid crustaceans (i.e., amphipods, isopods, and tanaids) dominated all macrophyte collections. Other less abundant epifauna included representatives of gastropod, decapod, polychaete, and pycnogonid taxa. Examination of patterns of epifaunal demonstrated that faunal-habitat associations differed significantly among macrophytes with divergent architectures. Moreover, these differences varied among epifaunal species with a disproportionately high abundance of epifauna on drift algae as compared to the seagrasses. While our study supported previous findings of a significantly higher abundance of crustaceans on macroalgae versus seagrasses, when examined at the species level, some pericarids displayed trends contrary to those observed in other studies. These overall findings reiterate that patterns of faunal abundance are probably maintained by a host of complex factors that extend beyond morphological features of the fauna and architecture of the macrophytes.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 May 1998
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