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Crustacean epifauna of seagrass and macroalgae in Apalachee Bay, Florida, USA

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Epifaunal crustaceans on turtlegrass (Thalassia testudinum) and five dominant macroalgae (Anadyomene stellata, Digenia simplex, Halimeda incrassata, Laurencia poitei and Penicillus lamourouxii) were quantitatively sampled bimonthly over a one-year period from September 1979 to September 1980 in a subtropical seagrass meadow in Apalachee Bay, Florida (northeastern Gulf of Mexico). These plant species exhibited a wide range of morphologies, with surface area-to-biomass ratios differing by over 2.5 times. A similar suite of crustaceans occurred on all macrophytes despite differences in shape or architecture among plant species. Relative abundances of many crustaceans, however, varied among plant hosts. Similarity analysis indicated that the epifaunal associates of T. testudinum were distinct from those of the macroalgae. Species richness was generally higher on turtlegrass than on any of the macroalgae. Abundances of total crustaceans per plant biomass or per plant surface area, on the other hand, were greater on all macroalgal species compared to the seagrass. Abundances (per plant biomass or plant surface area) of 14 of the 16 numerically dominant epifaunal species differed significantly among macrophytes. Twelve of the 16 species had greater abundance on one or more macroalgae, while only two species were more abundant on T. testudinum. Almost half of the dominant species had greatest abundances on the branching red alga L. poitei. Although abundances per plant biomass and plant surface area were greater on macroalgae relative to turtlegrass, densities (individuals per meter square of bottom) of animals associated with T. testudinum were significantly greater than those associated with macroalgae, primarily because of the greater abundance of turtlegrass in the grass bed. Both surface area-to-biomass ratios and degree of branching were poorly correlated with epifaunal abundance and number of species. Neither structural feature is an adequate predictor of faunal abundance and species richness among plant species, especially when macrophytes with very different morphologies are compared.

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Communicated by J. M. Lawrence, Tampa

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Lewis, F.G. Crustacean epifauna of seagrass and macroalgae in Apalachee Bay, Florida, USA. Mar. Biol. 94, 219–229 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00392934

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