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Functional diversity of mesograzers in an eelgrass–epiphyte system
Jaschinski, S.; Sommer, U. (2008). Functional diversity of mesograzers in an eelgrass–epiphyte system. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 154(3): 475-482.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Jaschinski, S.
  • Sommer, U.

    Historically, small invertebrate grazers in marine plant communities have been considered to be a relatively homogeneous group in their impact on ecosystem processes. However, recent studies propose that species composition is an important agent in determining grazer effects. We used four mesocosm experiments to test the biomass-specific and density-dependent effects of common mesograzers in temperate regions (Littorina littorea, Rissoa membranacea, Idotea baltica and Gammarus oceanicus) on epiphyte and eelgrass biomass and productivity. Mesograzer species identity strongly influenced epiphyte accumulation and eelgrass growth, where Rissoa was the most efficient mesograzer (per biomass) and Gammarus had the weakest impact. Density-dependent effects varied considerably among species. Both gastropod species reduced epiphyte accumulation in direct proportion to their density, and Littorina had the strongest negative effect on epiphyte biomass. The impact of Idotea seemed to level off to a threshold value and Gammarus had no density-dependent effect on epiphyte accumulation at all. Rissoa and Idotea increased eelgrass productivity in accordance with their effect on epiphyte accumulation, whereas Littorina showed a less positive effect than could be expected by its strong impact on epiphyte biomass. Gammarus had no significant impact on eelgrass growth. Our results show that the different functional traits of superficially similar mesograzers can have important consequences for ecosystem processes in macrophyte systems.

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