The positive influence of mangrove vegetation on macrobenthic communities has been widely investigated, but studies mainly focused on epibenthic assemblages. Given the contrasting characteristics between epifauna and infauna, we expected that mangrove vegetation would not exert the same positive effect on infaunal assemblages. To test this hypothesis, we investigated polychaete assemblages in mangrove stands in a tidal flat in Southeast Brazil. Specifically, we focused on (a) whether polychaete assemblages (i.e., density, richness, community, and feeding guild composition) are different inside and outside mangrove stands, and (b) if changes are related to root biomass. Our results showed that mangrove areas have lower polychaete density than that of adjacent sandflats, and polychaete density is negatively related to root biomass. Species richness was not affected by the presence of vegetation, but the number of exclusive species was higher inside the mangrove. Changes in composition of polychaete assemblages were mainly attributable to reductions in species density rather than species replacement. Trophic structure was not influenced by mangrove vegetation, as subsurface-feeders dominated inside and outside mangrove zones. Our results contrast with the richness enhancement found for epibenthic fauna inside mangroves, and highlight that mangrove vegetation does not exert the same influence on epibenthic as that on infaunal assemblages.
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Financial support to this study was provided by the BIOTA/FAPESP—ARAÇÁ project (Proc. No. 2011/50317-5); CAPES Foundation PhD’s scholarship to CF Silva, GN Corte (Proc. 14796/13-9), and HH Checon; FAPESP (Grants No: 2011/10130-3 and 2016/10810-8 to GN Corte); and CNPQ (Grant No: 306534/2015 to ACZ Amaral). The authors are very grateful to AS Godoy for helping with handling of databases for analysis, and to DG Filho, RF Daolio, N Padovanni, RK Murayama, AS Godoy, R Luchetti, and R Alitto for helping to collect and sieve all the samples. The authors are also grateful for two anonymous reviewers for their helpful inputs, and to M.Sc Yasmina Shah Esmaeili for language review.
Handling editor: I.A. Nagelkerken
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Checon, H.H., Corte, G.N., Silva, C.F. et al. Mangrove vegetation decreases density but does not affect species richness and trophic structure of intertidal polychaete assemblages. Hydrobiologia 795, 169–179 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-017-3128-0
- Avicennia schaueriana
- Laguncularia racemosa
- Feeding guild
- Brazilian coast
- Araçá Bay