Alternate Title

A Comparison of Macroepifauna Among Vegetated and Unvegetated Habitats in a South Florida Estuary Using a Passive Sampling Gear


We compared abundance, richness, diversity, and community structure of macroepifauna among the seagrasses Halodule wrightii, Thalassia testudinum, and Syringodium filiforme, and unvegetated substrate in Tarpon Bay, Caloosahatchee River estuary, Florida. Sampling was conducted using wire-mesh minnow traps deployed over fifty-six 24-h periods from Jan. 1999 to Jan. 2000. A total of 36, 35, 28, and 28 species were identified from Halodule, Thalassia, Syringodium, and unvegetated samples, respectively. The gastropod Nassarius vibex was the most abundant species from Halodule and unvegetated substrate, whereas the pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides) was the most abundant species from Thalassia and Syringodium. Abundance of these codominant species varied seasonally throughout the study. For all taxa combined and for codominants, each seagrass contained greater averages than unvegetated substrate in each season. Seagrasses typically had higher average species richness and diversity than unvegetated substrate in each season. Results indicate that Tarpon Bay typifies subtropical estuaries in that its epifaunal community is dominated by few species, faunal abundances vary seasonally, and more organisms are found in seagrasses than in unvegetated areas. Our results serve as a foundation to compare against future research in an understudied system.