Trophic implications and faunal resilience following one-off and successive disturbances to an Amphibolis griffithii seagrass system
Health, Engineering and Science
School of Natural Sciences
Disturbances in seagrass systems often lead to considerable loss of seagrass fauna. We examined the capacity for seagrass fauna, across multiple trophic levels, to recover from disturbances, using empirical and modelling techniques. Model outputs, using Ecosim with Ecopath (EwE), were consistent with the results of field investigations, highlighting the models robustness. Modelled outcomes suggest second and third order consumers are likely to be negatively effected by disturbances in the seagrass canopy. Particularly piscivores, which once disturbed, appear unlikely to recover following severe declines in primary productivity. EwE also revealed the complex interaction between the duration and intensity of disturbances on seagrass fauna, which may differentially affect higher order consumers. Further, modelling predicted a variable capacity of higher order consumers to recover from successive disturbances, suggesting taxa with comparatively fast reproductive cycles and short generation terms would be more resilient than taxa with comparatively long generation terms and slow reproductive cycles.