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Herbivorous Grazers

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

Synonyms

Grazers; Herbivores; Primary consumers

Definition

Herbivorous grazers are heterotrophic organisms that consume algae and/or plants. A wide range of species, both in terms of body size and taxonomic diversity, are herbivorous grazers.

Summary

Herbivorous grazers occupy the trophic niche immediately above primary producers in food webs. They are commonly found in estuarine habitats and consume estuarine plants (including seagrasses, salt marsh plants, and mangroves) and/or algae (including phytoplankton, benthic microalgae, and benthic or drifting macroalgae). In estuarine systems, herbivorous grazers can be either marine or terrestrial in origin, due to the proximity of the two habitats (Denno et al., 2002; Coverdale et al., 2012).

Estuarine herbivores are frequently grouped into three general categories based upon their body size: <0.1 cm micrograzers (e.g., amoeboids, ciliates), 0.1–2 cm mesograzers (e.g., amphipods, copepods, crabs, small gastropods, insects), and >2 cm...

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-8801-4_204
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Bibliography

  • Balouskus, R. G., and Targett, T. E., 2012. Egg deposition by Atlantic Silverside, Menidia menidia: substrate utilization and comparison of natural and altered shoreline type. Estuaries and Coasts, 35, 1100–1109.

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  • Coverdale, T. C., Altieri, A. H., and Bertness, M. D., 2012. Belowground herbivory increases vulnerability of New England salt marshes to die-off. Ecology, 93, 2085–2094.

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  • Denno, R. F., Gratton, C., Peterson, M. A., Langellotto, G. A., Finke, D. L., and Huberty, A. F., 2002. Bottom-up forces mediate natural-enemy impact in a phytophagous insect community. Ecology, 83, 1443–1458.

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  • Dijkstra, J. A., Boudreau, J., and Dionne, M., 2012. Species-specific mediation of temperature and community interactions by multiple foundation species. Oikos, 121, 646–654.

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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). Herbivorous Grazers. 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_204

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