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COMMUNITY INTERACTIONS OF CAPRELLA PENANTIS LEACH (CRUSTACEA: AMPHIPODA) ON SEA WHIPS

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ABSTRACT Sea whips, Leptogorgia virgulata L., occurring in Thalassia testudinum (Konig) meadows in northwestern Florida support an epifaunal community which is dominated by the caprellid amphipod Caprella penantis Leach. Caprella penantis densities were 23 times greater when T testudinum died back during the winter than when T. testudinum was more dense. Observations made during seasonal collections indicate that most fish predators of C. penantis are absent during the winter. Caprella penantis densities may have been decreased by fish predation, but the density increases were due to reproductive output. When C. penantis densities on sea whips decreased, postlarval and juvenile decapod crustaceans colonized the sea whip. The reptantians remained on the sea whips through several molts and then dropped from the sea whips to join the benthic macrofaunal community. Epibiotic communities, therefore, have been demonstrated to be involved in at least three important marine ecosystems processes: (1) they serve as a concentrated and recognizable food source for nekton, (2) epibionts graze periphyton and detritus from the biotic substratum, thereby preventing smothering, and (3) some benthic invertebrates temporarily join the epibiotic community during their transition from planktonic to epibenthic life styles.

10.1163/193724083X00175
/content/journals/10.1163/193724083x00175
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/content/journals/10.1163/193724083x00175
2017-08-20

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