Effects of habitat modification in mangroves on the structure of mollusc and crab assemblages

Skilleter, G. A. and Warren, S. (2000) Effects of habitat modification in mangroves on the structure of mollusc and crab assemblages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology And Ecology, 244 1: 107-129. doi:10.1016/S0022-0981(99)00133-1

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Author Skilleter, G. A.
Warren, S.
Title Effects of habitat modification in mangroves on the structure of mollusc and crab assemblages
Journal name Journal of Experimental Marine Biology And Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-0949
Publication date 2000-01-01
Year available 2000
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/S0022-0981(99)00133-1
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 244
Issue 1
Start page 107
End page 129
Total pages 23
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Company of Biologists
Language eng
Subject C1
270702 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)
779903 Living resources (flora and fauna)
780105 Biological sciences
Abstract The abundance and species richness of mollusc and crab assemblages were examined in a subtropical mangrove forest in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia, which has been disturbed and damaged by the construction of a wooden boardwalk and a path. Sections of the forest immediately adjacent to the boardwalk and path were compared with reference areas to determine whether changes to the small-scale structural complexity within the forest affected the benthic fauna. The disturbed area was characterised by having 65-80% fewer pneumatophores, significantly fewer species and individuals of molluscs, but significantly more species and individuals of crabs than the reference areas. The abundance of mangrove pneumatophores and the attached epiphytic algae were manipulated at two sites to determine whether observed differences in these features could account for the differences in the assemblage of molluscs in the disturbed area of the forest compared with reference areas. Five experimental treatments were used: undisturbed controls, pneumatophore removals (abundance reduced by ca. 65%), epiphytic algal removals (algae removed from ca. 65% of pneumatophores), pneumatophore disturbance controls and algal disturbance controls. The experimental reduction of the abundance of mangrove pneumatophores and the associated epiphytic algae led to significant declines (by as much as 83%) in the number of molluscs utilising the substratum in the modified plots. There was no significant difference in the abundance of molluscs in the pneumatophore and algal removal plots suggesting any effect was primarily related to removal of the epiphytic algae from the surface of the pneumatophores. The responses by the biota to the changes in the physical environment demonstrate that even relatively small-scale modifications to the physical structure of subtropical mangrove forests can lead to significant effects on the diversity and abundance of macrobenthic organisms in these habitats. Such modifications have the potential to cause cascading effects at higher trophic levels with a deterioration in the value of these habitats as nursery and feeding grounds. Future efforts at conservation of these estuarine environments must focus on the prevention or reduction of modifications to the physical structure and integrity of the system, rather than just on the prevention of loss of entire patches of habitat. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keyword Ecology
Marine & Freshwater Biology
Environmental Impacts
Habitat Modification
Structural Complexity
Community Structure
Tropical Australia
Q-Index Code C1
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Biological Sciences Publications
Ecology Centre Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 51 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 56 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 13 Aug 2007, 21:32:31 EST