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Model-based analysis of causes for habitat segregation in Idotea species (Crustacea, Isopoda)

Strer, Maximilian, Hammrich, Arne, Gutow, Lars, Moenickes, Sylvia
Marine biology 2016 v.163 no.4 pp. 68
Isopoda, cannibalism, databases, habitats, laboratory experimentation, littoral zone, macroalgae, models, mortality, physiological response, population growth, predation, rearing, reproduction, North Sea
On the shore of the rocky island of Helgoland (North Sea) two closely related isopod species, Idotea balthica PALLAS, 1772, and Idotea granulosa RATHKE, 1843, share a similar fundamental niche but inhabit well-separated habitats. Idotea balthica inhabits floating algae at the sea surface and accumulations of decaying algae on the seafloor, whereas I. granulosa primarily occurs in intertidal macroalgal belts. In laboratory experiments on individually reared isopods I. balthica outperformed I. granulosa with regard to growth, reproduction, and mortality in both a fully inundated habitat and in a tidal habitat with 5 h of daily emergence. We hypothesized that habitat segregation in the two isopod species is driven by one or multiple types of biotic interactions: (1) no interaction, (2) cannibalism, (3) intraguild predation, and (4) terrestrial predation. In order to evaluate how habitat segregation can be explained by each of these interaction types we employed a size-structured population model to account for the body-size-dependent predation. Net population growth rates were fitted to the simulations as a measure of population fitness. Experimental results served as database for parameter and process identification. As predation rates were unknown, we performed a sensitivity analysis for these. We found that below 5 h of daily tidal emergence either cannibalism or terrestrial predation sufficed to explain habitat segregation. Intraguild predation, in contrast, advantaged I. balthica in any case. From linear extrapolation of the effects occurring under conditions of 5 h of daily tidal emergence, we predict that contrasting physiological responses in I. balthica and I. granulosa would cause segregation even without any interaction if emergence lasted long enough.