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Effects of fish predation on Posidonia oceanica amphipod assemblages
Sturaro, N.; Gobert, S.; Pérez-Perera, A.; Caut, S.; Panzalis, P.; Navone, A.; Lepoint, G. (2016). Effects of fish predation on Posidonia oceanica amphipod assemblages. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 163(3).
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Sturaro, N., more
  • Gobert, S., more
  • Pérez-Perera, A., more
  • Caut, S.
  • Panzalis, P.
  • Navone, A.
  • Lepoint, G., more

    Amphipod assemblages that inhabit Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows are potentially relevant trophic resources for ichthyofauna. However, the effects of fish predation on amphipod assemblages in this system have received little attention. To address this gap in knowledge, experimental manipulations of predation intensity (exclusion and inclusion cages) were conducted at two sites in a Mediterranean marine protected area, where different levels of fish predation were expected to occur. We found that in the absence of predatory fishes (exclusion cages), total amphipod density and biomass were higher than in uncaged areas and partially controlled cages. At the species level, Caprella acanthifera and Iphimedia minuta responded to caging with increased abundance, while in most cases different species did not exhibit differences in density or biomass between treatments. The presence of one enclosed labrid fish predator (inclusion cages) resulted in a lower density and biomass of Aora spinicornis and a lower biomass of Phtisica marina, although total amphipod density and biomass were unchanged. In the inclusion cages, a size-frequency analysis revealed that predators mainly targeted large A. spinicornis and Apherusa chiereghinii individuals. Our results suggest that predation by fish may be an important factor in controlling amphipod abundances and biomasses in P. oceanica meadows. Overall, amphipod community composition was not affected by exclusion or inclusion of fish predators. However, some significant effects at the species level point to more complex interactions between some amphipods and fish.

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