, Volume 149, Issue 3, pp 455-463
Date: 28 Jan 2006

Herbivory in the gammarid amphipod Aora typica: relationships between consumption rates, performance and abundance across ten seaweed species

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This paper reveals a substantial capacity for herbivory of seaweeds in the gammarid amphipod Aora typica, adults eating seven of ten taxonomically and morphologically diverse seaweed species offered to them in a no-choice assay. The green algae Ulva spathulata and Enteromorpha intestinalis were consumed at the highest rates in both no-choice (2.3–2.5 mg blotted weight individual−1 day−1) and multiple-choice assays (0.5–1.3 mg blotted weight individual−1 day−1). Adult A. typica collected from two different species of brown seaweeds had very similar feeding preferences to each other. Juvenile A. typica grew to reproductive maturity on the green algae E. intestinalis and U. spathulata, and the brown algae Carpophyllum maschalocarpum and Ecklonia radiata. In common with previous studies on members of other amphipod families, survivorship of juvenile amphipods was positively correlated with feeding preferences of adults across seaweed species (r 2=0.43, P=0.04). However, densities of A. typica on seaweeds in the field (excluding the intertidal E. intestinalis and U. spathulata) were not significantly correlated with feeding preferences of adults (r 2=0.07, P=0.5) or survivorship of juveniles (r 2=0.17, P=0.31). This suggests that either host seaweeds are not a major dietary component of these amphipods in nature, or that the host’s value as a food source is overridden by other properties such as the degree of shelter it affords from larger consumers. This study provides the first demonstration that a member of the cosmopolitan amphipod family Aoridae is capable of consuming a diverse range of seaweeds.

Communicated by G.F. Humphrey, Sydney