Marine Biology

, Volume 154, Issue 1, pp 163–174 | Cite as

Processing of allochthonous macrophyte subsidies by sandy beach consumers: estimates of feeding rates and impacts on food resources

  • Mariano Lastra
  • Henry M. Page
  • Jenifer E. Dugan
  • David M. Hubbard
  • Ivan F. Rodil
Research Article


Allochthonous subsidies of organic material can profoundly influence population and community structure; however, the role of consumers in the processing of these inputs is less understood but may be closely linked to community and ecosystem function. Inputs of drift macrophytes subsidize sandy beach communities and food webs in many regions. We estimated feeding rates of dominant sandy beach consumers, the talitrid amphipods (Megalorchestia corniculata, in southern California, USA, and Talitrus saltator, in southern Galicia, Spain), and their impacts on drift macrophyte subsidies in field and laboratory experiments. Feeding rate varied with macrophyte type and, for T. saltator, air temperature. Size-specific feeding rates of talitrid amphipods were greatest on brown macroalgae (Macrocystis, Egregia, Saccorhiza and Fucus). Rates for large individuals of both species ranged from ∼40 mg wet wt individual−112 h−1 on brown macroalgae to negligible feeding by M. corniculata on a vascular plant (surfgrass). Amphipod growth rates were also greatest on Macrocystis and lowest on surfgrass, Phyllospadix. For a Californian beach with substantial inputs of macrophyte wrack (>70 kg wet wt m−1 month−1 in summer), we estimated that the population of talitrid amphipods could process an average of 55% of the palatable Macrocystis input. Our results indicate that talitrid amphipod populations can have a significant impact on drift macrophyte processing and fate and that the quantity and composition of drift macrophytes could, in turn, limit populations of beach consumers.


Beach Macrophyte Consumption Rate Ulva Sandy Beach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was supported by bursaries from the University of Vigo (to M.L., H.M.P. and I.F.R.) the Xunta de Galicia (Predoctorales Xunta P.P. 0000 300S 140.08 to I.F.R.), the National Sea Grant College Program of the US Department of Commerce (NOAA grant #NA06RG0142), the California Sea Grant program (Project R/CZ-174) and the Santa Barbara Coastal LTER (NSF # OCE-99–82105). We thank D. Chakos, R. Fisher, J. Hoesterey, M. James, M. Lippincott, J. Tarmann, and N. Wenger for their assistance with the field and laboratory work. The authors declare that all the experiments carried out in this paper comply with the current laws from Spain and USA.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariano Lastra
    • 1
  • Henry M. Page
    • 2
  • Jenifer E. Dugan
    • 2
  • David M. Hubbard
    • 2
  • Ivan F. Rodil
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología y Biología AnimalUniversidad de VigoVigoSpain
  2. 2.Marine Science InsituteUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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