Faunal communities in seagrass beds: A review of the influence of plant structure and prey characteristics on predator-prey relationships
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- Orth, R.J., Heck, K.L. & van Montfrans, J. Estuaries (1984) 7: 339. doi:10.2307/1351618
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When compared with nearby unvergetated areas, seagrass meadows contain a dense and strikingly rich assemblage of vertebrates and invertebrates. Most recent literature has focused on evaluating the role of predation in structuring seagrass faunal communities; however, habitat complexity, abundance of food and sediment stability may also be important. This paper summarizes studies relating predator-prey relationships to different features of the seagrass system. This review suggests that the abundance of many species, both epifauna and infauna, is positively correlated with two distinct aspects of plant morphology: 1) the root-rhizome mat, and 2) the plant canopy. A scheme was developed that defines the conditions under which any particular species will be abundant or rare in a seagrass assemblage. This scheme is based on prey and predator characteristics (e.g., epifaunal vs. infaunal, tube-dweller vs. nontube dweller, burrowers vs. nonburrowers, and large vs. small as adult) and on characteristics of the seagrasses (e.g., leaf morphology, shoot density, shoot biomass, structural complexity of the meadow, and root-rhizome density and standing crop).