, Volume 103, Issue 2, pp 170–179 | Cite as

Tropical marine herbivore assimilation of phenolic-rich plants

  • Nancy M. Targett
  • Anne A. Boettcher
  • Timothy E. Targett
  • Nicholas H. Vrolijk
Original Paper


Phenolics in marine brown algae have been thought to follow a latitudinal gradient with high phenolic species in high latitudes and low phenolic species in low latitudes. However, tropical brown algae from the western Caribbean have been shown to be high in phlorotannin concentration, indicating that latitude alone is not a reasonable predictor of marine plant phenolic concentrations. This study shows that the range of high phenolic phaeophytes is not limited to the western Caribbean but encompasses the western tropical Atlantic, including Bermuda and the Caribbean, where algal phlorotannin concentrations can be as high as 25% dry weight (DW). Assimilation efficiencies (AEs) of phenolic-rich and phenolic-poor plants were examined in three tropical marine herbivores (the parrotfish, Sparisoma radians, and the brachyuran crab, Mithrax sculptus, from Belize and the parrotfish, Sparisoma chrysopterum, from Bermuda). AEs of phenolic-rich food by each of the three herbivore species were uniformly high, suggesting that high plant phenolic concentrations did not affect AEs in these species. This is in contrast to some temperate marine herbivores where phenolic concentrations of 10% DW have been shown to drastically reduce AE. The apparent contradiction is discussed in light of the effects of specific herbivore gut characteristics on successful herbivory of high phenolic brown algae.

Key words

Phlorotannin Polyphenolics Herbivore Assimilation efficiency Brown algae 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy M. Targett
    • 1
  • Anne A. Boettcher
    • 1
  • Timothy E. Targett
    • 1
  • Nicholas H. Vrolijk
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate College of Marine StudiesUniversity of DelawareLewesUSA

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