, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 221-235

Influence of predation on infaunal abundance in Upper Chesapeake Bay, USA

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The importance of predators in controlling the densities of infaunal (>0.5 mm) organisms was investigated in the mesohaline region of the Upper Chesapeake Bay (USA) using field experiments. The role of predators in controlling infaunal density and community characteristics varied with habitat type, season (i.e., predator abundance) and developmental or successional stage of the community. Few infaunal species were adversely affected by predator exclusion. Species that increased greatly in abundance in the absence of predators (e.g. Eteone heteropoda, Streblospio benedicti, Nereis succinea, and juvenile Macoma balthica and Mya arenaria) lived near the sediment-water interface and had major population pulses from fall through spring. Species whose abundances increased moderately or were not affected by predator exclusion were deeper burrowing organisms (e.g. Heteromastus filiformis and adult Mya arenaria), or were relatively small organisms (e.g. Paraprionospio pinnata, Scolecolepides viridis and Peloscolex gabriellae) whose principal predators could be other members of the infauna. Competition did not appear to be an important factor controlling infaunal density in these experiments.

This work is Contribution No. 973 of the Center for Environmental and Estuarine Studies of the University of Maryland
Communicated by I. Morris, West Boothbay Harbor