The role of different types of detached macrophytes in the food and habitat choice of a surf-zone inhabiting amphipod
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Natural Sciences
Allorchestescompressa is the dominant macroinvertebrate species in wrack accumulations on surf zones of south-western Australia. These amphipods were provided with a choice of macrophyte material representing brown and red algae and seagrass in a series of preference experiments in the laboratory and field. Feeding experiments showed that A. compressa exhibited a strong preference for particular types of macrophytes (P < 0.01). Amphipods primarily consumed brown algae, with 69–98% of the biomass of Ecklonia radiata and 64% of the biomass of Sargassum sp. lost over the experiments. This study has shown that the amphipod A. compressa exhibits a clear preference for brown algae over red algae and seagrass as food. In terms of habitat preference, tank experiments using a series of pair-wise comparisons showed that, in the absence of fish predators, A. compressa selected seagrass as its preferred habitat over the other types of wrack (P < 0.001). When satiated or starved, between 68 and 83 and 79 and 98% of amphipods were found in Amphibolis and Posidonia, respectively. In contrast, field-cage experiments revealed that A. compressa preferred either mixed wrack, brown algae or red algae over seagrass as a habitat (P < 0.01). The contrasts between results from the laboratory and field suggest that other factors such as the presence of predators, water flow and light could influence habitat choice in the surf zone. This study shows that allochthonous material transported to surf zones from other habitats therefore play different roles in driving secondary production in this shoreline habitat.