Richness of primary producers and consumer abundance mediate epiphyte loads in a tropical seagrass system

Hoffmann, Luke, Edwards, Will, York, Paul H., and Rasheed, Michael A. (2020) Richness of primary producers and consumer abundance mediate epiphyte loads in a tropical seagrass system. Diversity, 12 (10). 384.

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Abstract

Consumer communities play an important role in maintaining ecosystem structure and function. In seagrass systems, algal regulation by mesograzers provides a critical maintenance function which promotes seagrass productivity. Consumer communities also represent a key link in trophic energy transfer and buffer negative effects to seagrasses associated with eutrophication. Such interactions are well documented in the literature regarding temperate systems, however, it is not clear if the same relationships exist in tropical systems. This study aimed to identify if the invertebrate communities within a tropical, multispecies seagrass meadow moderated epiphyte abundance under natural conditions by comparing algal abundance across two sites at Green Island, Australia. At each site, paired plots were established where invertebrate assemblages were perturbed via insecticide manipulation and compared to unmanipulated plots. An 89% increase in epiphyte abundance was seen after six weeks of experimental invertebrate reductions within the system. Using generalised linear mixed-effect models and path analysis, we found that the abundance of invertebrates was negatively correlated with epiphyte load on seagrass leaves. Habitat species richness was seen to be positively correlated with invertebrate abundance. These findings mirrored those of temperate systems, suggesting this mechanism operates similarly across latitudinal gradients.

Item ID: 64527
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1424-2818
Keywords: epiphyte–grazer interactions; trophic interactions; ecosystem function and services; invertebrate assemblages
Copyright Information: © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Linkage Grant (LP160100492)
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.25903/5f45d97cc5081
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2020 01:11
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 40%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
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