Herbivory in a subtropical seagrass ecosystem: separating the functional role of different grazers

Ebrahim, Ameer, Olds, Andrew D., Maxwell, Paul S., Pitt, Kylie A., Burfeind, Dana D. and Connolly, Rod M. (2014) Herbivory in a subtropical seagrass ecosystem: separating the functional role of different grazers. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 511 83-91. doi:10.3354/meps10901

Author Ebrahim, Ameer
Olds, Andrew D.
Maxwell, Paul S.
Pitt, Kylie A.
Burfeind, Dana D.
Connolly, Rod M.
Title Herbivory in a subtropical seagrass ecosystem: separating the functional role of different grazers
Journal name Marine Ecology Progress Series   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0171-8630
Publication date 2014-09-24
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3354/meps10901
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 511
Start page 83
End page 91
Total pages 9
Place of publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publisher Inter-Research
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Seagrass meadows provide many important ecosystem services, but they are threatened by human activities and are in decline globally. In particular, eutrophication arising from human activities promotes algal growth, which negatively affects seagrass. Herbivores consume algae and can, therefore, reduce eutrophication effects, but they may also consume seagrass. Little is known, however, about grazer-epiphyte-seagrass interactions in subtropical seagrass in the Indo-Pacific. We used a 5 wk exclusion experiment to quantify the influence of different grazers in seagrass (dominated by Zostera muelleri) in Moreton Bay, eastern Australia. Our results show that herbivory does indeed affect seagrass-epiphyte dynamics in this region and that different grazers can exert different effects in seagrass ecosystems. In particular, exclusion of small mesograzers (i.e. amphipods and juvenile shrimp) caused epiphyte biomass to increase by up to 233%. Exclusion of medium mesograzers (i.e. small fish and prawns) resulted in increases of up to 10% in seagrass cover, 53% in shoot height and 29% in shoot density. Large mesograzers (i.e. adult fish) and macrograzers (i.e. turtles and dugong) did not appear to play a role in the study system. These results demonstrate that mesograzers can be important in controlling epiphytic algae in subtropical Indo-Pacific seagrass, and show that different mesograzers can affect seagrass-epiphyte dynamics in different ways. It is critical that the functional effects of different herbivores be considered when implementing programs for seagrass conservation and restoration.
Keyword Seagrass
Moreton bay
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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