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  • 1
    In: PeerJ, 2018, Vol.6
    Description: Tropical estuaries are highly productive and support diverse benthic assemblages within mangroves and tidal flats habitats. Determining differences and similarities of benthic assemblages within estuarine habitats and between regional ecosystems may provide scientific support for management of those ecosystems. Here we studied three tropical estuaries in the Eastern Marine Ecoregion of Brazil to assess the spatial variability of benthic assemblages from vegetated (mangroves) and unvegetated (tidal flats) habitats. A nested sampling design was used to determine spatial scales of variability in benthic macrofaunal density, biomass and secondary production. Habitat differences in benthic assemblage composition were evident, with mangrove forests being dominated by annelids (Oligochaeta and Capitellidae) whereas peracarid crustaceans were also abundant on tidal flats. Macrofaunal biomass, density and secondary production also differed between habitats and among estuaries. Those differences were related both to the composition of benthic assemblages and to random spatial variability, underscoring the importance of hierarchical sampling in estuarine ecological studies. Given variable levels of human impacts and predicted climate change effects on tropical estuarine assemblages in Eastern Brazil, our data support the use of benthic secondary production to address long-term changes and improved management of estuaries in Eastern Brazil.
    Keywords: Ecosystem Science ; Biological Oceanography ; Estuaries ; Benthic Ecology ; Secondary Production ; Mangroves ; Macrofauna ; Eastern Brazil ; Tidal Flats
    E-ISSN: 2167-8359
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