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Title: Ecological structure and function differs between habitats dominated by seagrasses and green seaweeds
Authors: Tuya, Fernando 
Png-Gonzalez, Lydia
Riera, Rodrigo 
Haroun, Ricardo 
Espino Rodríguez, Fernando 
UNESCO Clasification: 241705 Biología marina
Keywords: Ecosystem services
Clonal seaweeds
Atlantic Ocean
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: 0141-1136
Project: Changes In Submersed Vegetation:Assessing Loss In Ecosystems Services From Frondose To Depauperate Systems Dominated By Oppotunistic Vegetation 
Journal: Marine Environmental Research 
Abstract: Marine vegetated habitats, e.g. seagrass meadows, deliver essential functions and services to coastal ecosystems and human welfare. Impacts induced by humans, however, have facilitated the replacement of seagrasses by alternative vegetation, e.g. green rhizophytic seaweeds. The implications of habitat shifts for ecosystem attributes and processes and the services they deliver remain poorly known. In this study, we compared ecosystem structure and function between Cymodocea nodosa seagrass meadows and bottoms dominated by Caulerpa prolifera, a green, native, rhizophytic seaweed, through 5 ecological proxies: (i) primary production (via community metabolism), (ii) composition and abundance of epifauna (a proxy for provision of habitat for epifauna), composition and abundance of (iii) small-sized (juvenile) and (iv) large-sized (adult) fishes (proxies for provision of habitat for fishes), and (v) sediment retention (a proxy for sediment stabilization). Four of these proxies were greater in C. nodosa seagrass meadows than in C. prolifera beds: gross primary productivity (∼1.4 times), the total abundance, species density and biomass of small-sized fishes (∼2.1, 1.3 and 1.3 times, respectively), the total abundance and species density of large-sized fishes (∼3.6 and 1.5 times, respectively), and sediment stabilization (∼1.4 times). In contrast, the total abundance and species density of epifauna was larger (∼3.1 and 1.7 times, respectively) in C. prolifera than in C. nodosa seagrass beds. These results suggest that ecosystem structure and function may differ if seagrasses are replaced by green rhizophytic seaweeds. Importantly, ecosystem functions may not be appropriate surrogates for one another. As a result, assessments of ecosystem services associated with ecosystem functions cannot be based on exclusively one service that is expected to benefit other services.
ISSN: 0141-1136
DOI: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2014.03.015
Source: Marine Environmental Research [ISSN 0141-1136], v. 98, p. 1-13
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