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Herbivory

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Part of the Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series book series (EESS)

Synonyms

Grazing

Definition

Herbivory is a type of exploitation in which heterotrophs consume autotroph (algae and plants) biomass.

Summary

Herbivory is common and widespread in estuarine systems, and numerous invertebrate and vertebrate taxa can act as herbivores in these habitats (see Herbivorous Grazers ).

Estuaries worldwide vary substantially in herbivore densities and consumption rates, leading to corresponding variation in the trophic impact and ecosystem-level importance of herbivory. Herbivory can shape the abundance, distribution, and species composition of primary producers. Herbivores in low-nutrient systems can serve as a “biological control” for algal blooms, for example, but may have little impact on algal biomass under other conditions (Hauxwell et al., 1998; Worm and Lotze, 2006). In many estuarine systems, primary producer biomass is mainly degraded via detrital pathways, with herbivory having a much more limited role (e.g., Conover, 2011; Guidone et al., 2012).

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Bibliography

  • Conover, J., 2011. Variability in Biomass Decay Rates and Nutrient Loss in Bloom-Forming Macroalgal Species. Open Access Masters' Theses, Paper 108, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI.

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Correspondence to Carol Thornber .

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© 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

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Thornber, C. (2016). Herbivory. In: Kennish, M.J. (eds) Encyclopedia of Estuaries. Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-8801-4_203

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