Comparative patterns of occupancy by decapod crustaceans in seagrass, oyster, and marsh-edge habitats in a Northeast Gulf of Mexico estuary

Abstract

Decapod crustaceans occupying seagrass, salt marsh edge, and oyster habitats within the St. Martins Aquatic Preserve along the central Gulf coast of Florida were quantitatively sampled using a 1-m2 throw trap during July–August 1999 and March–April 2000. Relative abundance and biomass were used as the primary measures to compare patterns of occupancy among the three habitat types. Representative assemblages of abundant and common species from each habitat were compared using Schoener's Percent Similarity Index (PSI). In all, 17,985 decapods were sampled, representing 14 families and 28 species. In the summer sampling period, mean decapod density did not differ between oyster and seagrass habitats, which both held greater densities of decapods than marsh-edge. In the spring sampling period oyster reef habitat supported greater mean decapod density than both seagrass and marsh-edge, which had similar densities of decapods. Habitat-specific comparisons of decapod density between the two sampling periods indicated no clear seasonal effect. In summer 1999, when seagrasses were well established, decapod biomass among the three habitats was not significantly different. During spring 2000, decapod biomass in oyster (41.40 gm−2) was greater than in marshedge (4.20 gm−2), but did not differ from that of seagrass (9.73 g m−2). There was no significant difference in decapod biomas between seagrass and marsh-edge habitats during the spring 2000 sampling period. The assemblage analysis using Schoener's PSI indicated that decapod assemblages associated with oyster were distinct from seagrass and marshedge habitats (which were similar). The results of this study suggest that in comparison to seagrass and marsh-edge habitats, oyster reef habitats and the distinct assemblage of decapod crustaceans that they support represent an ecologically important component of this estuarine system.

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Glancy, T.P., Frazer, T.K., Cichra, C.E. et al. Comparative patterns of occupancy by decapod crustaceans in seagrass, oyster, and marsh-edge habitats in a Northeast Gulf of Mexico estuary. Estuaries 26, 1291–1301 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02803631

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Keywords

  • Salt Marsh
  • Blue Crab
  • Marine Ecology Progress Series
  • Decapod Crustacean
  • Oyster Reef