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An exclusion experiment to study the influence of habitat structure provided by Mussismilia corals (Cnidaria; Anthozoa) on the predation of associated crustaceans

Marcos M. Nogueira, Elizabeth Neves, Rodrigo Johnsson
Helgoland marine research 2019 v.73 no.1 pp. 7
Anthozoa, Crustacea, cages, corals, fauna, foraging, habitats, predation, predators
Predation is an interaction between species that influences community organisation by the direct consumption of prey, influencing prey numbers, behaviours and traits. The intensity of predation is greatly influenced by the environment, and the physical structure of habitats may influence predation intensity by providing refuge for prey or reducing the foraging efficiency of predators. In this context, the aim of the present study is to verify the influence of predation on the richness and density patterns of crustaceans inhabiting different species of Mussismilia corals, which provide various habitat structures for the associated fauna. We conducted an exclusion experiment to include total, partial and no cage treatments. The richness and density of crustaceans differed among coral species and cage treatments, except between partial cage and no cage treatment. Mussismilia harttii showed higher richness and density in uncaged and partial cage treatments compared with M. braziliensis, which in turn showed higher values than M. hispida. These findings indicate the importance of predation in the structure of crustacean assemblage associated with Mussismilia species and that differences in the richness and abundance of associated fauna result from the different habitat structures provided by each species of Mussismilia.