Alternate Title

Pelagic Sargassum Mediates Predation Among Symbiotic Fishes and Shrimps


We investigated, using microcosm experiments, predator-prey relationships of symbionts within sargassum communities. Specifically, two predatory fishes (Stephanolepis hispidus and Histrio histrio) and two shrimp species (Latreutes fucorum and Leander tennicornis) were studied. The following research questions were addressed: 1) Do the fish predators select preferentially particular shrimp prey species? and 2) Does available habitat affect survival times of shrimp prey, or prey selection by fish predators? Stephanolepis hispidus showed a selection preference for Latreutes fucorum, as this shrimp's survival times were significantly lower than for Leander tennicornis in predation trials. However, H. histrio did not show a preference for either shrimp species, as survival times for shrimp did not differ significantly. Differences observed in these selection patterns are likely related to 1) differences in the foraging strategies of the predators and 2) prey defenses (morphological). A comparison of survival times with and without sargassum habitat (both natural and synthetic) demonstrates clearly that both shrimp species ultimately receive some degree of protection from these fish predators by living in these morphologically complex communities.