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Article

Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Macroherbivore Grazing in a Multi-Species Tropical Seagrass Meadow of the Great Barrier Reef

1
Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), James Cook University, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
2
College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2021, 13(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13010012
Received: 19 November 2020 / Revised: 19 December 2020 / Accepted: 28 December 2020 / Published: 2 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity in Seagrass Ecosystems)
Macroherbivory is an important process in seagrass meadows worldwide; however, the impact of macroherbivores on seagrasses in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has received little attention. We used exclusion cages and seagrass tethering assays to understand how the intensity of macroherbivory varies over space and time in the seagrass meadows around Green Island (Queensland), and what impact this has on overall meadow structure. Rates of macroherbivory were comparatively low, between 0.25–44% of daily seagrass productivity; however, rates were highly variable over a one-year period, and among sites. Loss of seagrass material to macroherbivory was predominantly due to fish; however, urchin herbivory was also taking place. Macroherbivory rates were of insufficient intensity to impact overall meadow structure. No macroherbivory events were identified on video cameras that filmed in the day, indicating that feeding may be occurring infrequently in large shoals, or at night. While relatively low compared to some meadows, seagrass macroherbivory was still an important process at this site. We suggest that in this highly protected area of the GBR, where the ecosystem and food webs remain largely intact, macroherbivory was maintained at a low level and was unlikely to cause the large-scale meadow structuring influence that can be seen in more modified seagrass systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: seagrass ecosystem; herbivore; plant-herbivore interactions; grazing; fish; sea urchin; Marine Protected Area; Great Barrier Reef seagrass ecosystem; herbivore; plant-herbivore interactions; grazing; fish; sea urchin; Marine Protected Area; Great Barrier Reef
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MDPI and ACS Style

Scott, A.L.; York, P.H.; Rasheed, M.A. Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Macroherbivore Grazing in a Multi-Species Tropical Seagrass Meadow of the Great Barrier Reef. Diversity 2021, 13, 12. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13010012

AMA Style

Scott AL, York PH, Rasheed MA. Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Macroherbivore Grazing in a Multi-Species Tropical Seagrass Meadow of the Great Barrier Reef. Diversity. 2021; 13(1):12. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13010012

Chicago/Turabian Style

Scott, Abigail L., Paul H. York, and Michael A. Rasheed. 2021. "Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Macroherbivore Grazing in a Multi-Species Tropical Seagrass Meadow of the Great Barrier Reef" Diversity 13, no. 1: 12. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13010012

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