The overall purpose of this study was to develop a quantitative model to assess the influence of L. setiferus predation on subtidal macrobenthic abundance cycles in an estuarine creek system. Subtidal macrobenthic populations in temperate marine soft-bottom environments are known to undergo seasonal abundance cycles. Although the factors responsible for driving these seasonal shifts in abundance are difficult to identify, both environmental and biological factors have received credit. Juvenile white shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus) are seasonally abundant epibenthic predators in the North Inlet estuary that have significant influence upon estuarine macrobenthic densities. Data generated from field and laboratory studies were combined with 20 years of long-term monitoring data to simulate seasonal variations in macrobenthos abundance under different levels of L. setiferus predation. Model simulations generated clear reductions in subtidal macrobenthos densities, confirming the role of L. setiferus as major consumers of macrobenthos. Model uncertainty was small, and model accuracy increased with shrimp density. In years with low or medium shrimp densities, predicted macrobenthos densities tended to be higher than those observed, yet predicted rates of decline still paralleled long-term observations. Model simulations best matched observed data for the representative high shrimp density year tested. Results indicate that variability in multiple factors, including L. setiferus predation, likely control macrobenthos abundance cycles. Predation by earlier-arriving epibenthic feeders may drive initial macrobenthos declines earlier in the year, with L. setiferus predation then intensifying and extending these declines throughout the summer and fall. This modeling approach is an important step toward understanding the role of multiple factors driving seasonal macrobenthos dynamics, and the L. setiferus population was tractable for examining the importance of epibenthic predation on these organisms.
|Numero di pagine||12|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2009|