Diel variation in the abundance of epifauna associated with seagrasses of the Indian River, Florida, USA
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- Howard, R.K. Marine Biology (1987) 96: 137. doi:10.1007/BF00394847
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Day-night comparisons of the motile epifauna in the canopy of seagrass beds in the Indian River lagoon, Florida revealed that abundances were not stable over the diel period. Collections were made between February and June, 1982. Higher densities of epifauna occurred on seagrasses at night. For both of the numerically-dominant gastropod and crustacean groups, four of the five top ranked species followed this diel pattern. Crustaceans showed particularly large changes in abundance, averaging a twofold increase in nocturnal samples. Faunal similarity between day and night collections remained high, however, indicating that community structure was preserved during diel abundance changes. Equating epifauna collected from seagrass blades with those associated with the seagrass habitat in general therefore may be erroneous, particularly if collections are made during daylight. Changes in prey availability due to the diel pattern are likely to extend to important community trophic functions.