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Local and geographic variation in grazing intensity by herbivorous crabs in SW Atlantic salt marshes

Local and geographic variation in grazing intensity by herbivorous crabs in SW Atlantic salt marshes,10.3354/meps07089,Marine Ecology-progress Series,

Local and geographic variation in grazing intensity by herbivorous crabs in SW Atlantic salt marshes   (Citations: 12)
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Coupling experiments at small spatial scales with large-scale surveys can help to gen- eralize experimental results across large spatial scales. The goal of the present study was to evaluate patterns of crab herbivory within and, at a larger scale, between many southwestern (SW) Atlantic salt marshes. Hence, we conducted experiments in an Argentinean salt marsh to elucidate the effects of crab Chasmagnathus granulatus grazing on the cordgrass Spartina densiflora and the factors that can affect this interaction, and then examined the potential generality of these results across SW Atlantic salt marshes from Brazil to Argentina (15 marshes, range ≈ 2000 km). Experimental exami- nation of the effects of crabs (control and exclusion) on marsh grass transplants, and factors that can affect them, i.e. the presence or absence of plant neighbors and marsh height (middle and low), revealed that crab herbivory decreased plant biomass and increased stem mortality; however, her- bivory effects were significantly diminished in the presence of plant neighbors and with increasing marsh elevation. Our geographical survey showed that crab herbivory is common in SW Atlantic salt marshes, with more than 20% of leaves damaged in most marshes and with greater consumption at marshes with higher crab densities. In addition, plants at the lower edge of marshes were generally the most consumed (max. >60% leaves consumed) and crabs preferred S. alterniflora over S. densi- flora. Over a regional spatial scale, our results suggest that herbivory may affect plant production at some marshes and can also play a role in limiting the lower tidal elevation limit of low-marsh plants.
Journal: Marine Ecology-progress Series - MAR ECOL-PROGR SER , vol. 349, pp. 235-243, 2007
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    • ...Some largescale studies recently produced have focused on, for example, the effect of herbivory on plant production/ productivity (Silliman and Bortolus 2003; Silliman et al. 2005; Alberti et al. 2007), the variation in plant palatability along the East coast of North America (Pennings et al. 2001; Salgado and Pennings 2005; Pennings et al. 2009) and Europe (Pennings et al. 2007) among others...
    • ...Scientific literature often referred to the South Western Atlantic salt marshes as ecosystems dominated and characterized by Spartina grasses (e.g., Bortolus and Iribarne 1999; Isacch et al. 2006; Alberti et al. 2007; Canepuccia et al. 2007)...

    Yanina L. Idaszkinet al. Does low temperature prevent Spartina alterniflora from expanding towa...

    • ...(Iribarne et al. 1997), eating grass (Bortolus and Iribarne 1999; Alberti et al. 2007a) and other crabs (Daleo et al. 2003; Méndez Casariego et al. 2009), aVecting benthic community structure (Escapa et al. 2004) and mediating predator–prey interactions (Escapa et al. 2004; Martinetto et al. 2005)...
    • ...Recent evidence suggests that the intensity of crab grazing increases by as much as 60% at lower elevations (Alberti et al. 2007a)...
    • ...Generally, the lower distributional limit of marsh plants is thought to be controlled by physiological tolerances to abiotic stress (Bertness 1991b; Castillo et al. 2000; Bertness and Leonard 1997); however, in SW Atlantic salt marshes, crab herbivory also increases with decreasing marsh height (Alberti et al. 2007a) and may set lower distribution limits...
    • ...It is not surprising that crab densities were not related to the impact of crab herbivory as it has been shown that within a given marsh, there is no correlation between crab density and crab herbivory (Alberti et al. 2007a), probably due to high crab mobility and the fact that they prefer to graze while underwater (Alberti et al. 2007b)...
    • ...is extremely common and crab herbivory is typically most intense in the low marsh on the edge of mudXats (Alberti et al. 2007a)...

    Juan Albertiet al. Abiotic stress mediates top-down and bottom-up control in a Southweste...

    • ...Since gradient of physical stress across marsh elevation (Bertness and Hacker 1994; Bertness and Ewanchuk 2002) affect salt marsh plants (Shumway and Bertness 1992; Moon and Stiling 2000) and then its consumers (Moon and Stiling 2000, 2002; Alberti et al. 2007), we evaluate rodent species and distribution across the marsh elevation...

    Alejandro D. Canepucciaet al. The Intertidal Burrowing Crab Neohelice (= Chasmagnathus ) granulata P...

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