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Landscape Ecology and the Marine Environment: How Spatial Configuration of Seagrass Habitat Influences Growth and Survival of the Bay Scallop
E. A. Irlandi, W. G. Ambrose, Jr. and B. A. Orlando
Vol. 72, No. 3 (Apr., 1995), pp. 307-313
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3546115
Page Count: 7
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Landscape ecology includes the study of the effects of spatial patterning of habitats on biotic and abiotic processes. Seagrass beds occur in a variety of spatial configurations providing a model system to test how spatial patterning of habitats influences ecological processes. We established four replicate plots over very patchy (22% cover), patchy (70% cover), and continuous (97% cover) seagrass beds so that each plot contained approximately 100 m2 of vegetated bottom. Fifty individually marked scallops were placed within the seagrass in each plot and their survivorship monitored over three replicate 24-h periods, and growth and survival monitored over an additional four-week period. There was no pattern in survivorship with differences in habitat configuration over the first three 24-h of the experiment. By four weeks, more scallops were lost to predation in the very patchy seagrass beds than in the patchy or continuous beds. There was a non-significant trend for increased growth of juvenile scallops with increased patchiness of the seagrass habitat. Vegetation characteristics such as shoot density, biomass, and blade length, which have been shown to affect survival of seagrass-associated invertebrates, were not significantly different among seagrass beds with different spatial configurations. Our results demonstrate that spatial patterning of the habitat, independent of structural characteristics of the seagrass, can alter rates of predation on seagrass inhabitants. This implies that habitat utilization and/or foraging strategies of predators change with the spatial patterning of the vegetation and that very patchy seagrass beds may provide habitats where transfer of secondary production to higher trophic levels is great.
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