Effect of habitat fragmentation on the macroinvertebrate infaunal communities associated with the seagrass Zostera marina

Frost, MT, Rowden, AA and Attrill, MJ 1999 Effect of habitat fragmentation on the macroinvertebrate infaunal communities associated with the seagrass Zostera marina. Aquatic Conservation Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 9. 255-263. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-0755(199905/06)9:3<255::AID-AQC346>3.0.CO;2-F

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1. The effect of habitat fragmentation was investigated in two adjacent, yet separate, intertidal Zostera marina beds in the Salcombe Estuary, Devon, UK. The seagrass bed on the west bank comprised a continuous meadow of ca. 2.3 ha, whilst the bed on the east bank of the estuary was fragmented into patches of 6–9 m2.2. Three 10 cm diameter core samples for infaunal macroinvertebrates were taken from three stations within each bed. No significant difference was found in univariate community parameters between beds, or in measured seagrass parameters. However, multivariate analysis revealed a significant difference in community composition, due mainly to small changes in species abundance rather than differences in the species present.3. The species contributing most to the dissimilarity between the two communities were polychaetes generally associated with unvegetated habitats (e.g. Magelona mirabilis) and found to be more common in the fragmented bed.4. A significant difference in median grain size and sorting coefficient was recorded between the two beds, and median grain size was found to be the variable best explaining multivariate community patterns.5. The results of the study provide evidence for the effects of habitat fragmentation on the communities associated with seagrass beds, habitats which are of high conservation importance. As the infaunal community is perhaps intuitively the component least likely to be affected by fragmentation at the scale observed, the significant difference in community composition recorded has consequences for more sensitive and high-profile parts of the biota (e.g. fish), and thus for the conservation of seagrass habitats and their associated communities.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Divisions: Marine Biological Association of the UK > Other (MBA)
Depositing User: Dr Matthew Frost
Date made live: 17 Nov 2015 13:05
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2024 16:57
URI: https://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/6599

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