Elevated nutrient content of tropical macroalgae increases rates of herbivory in coral, seagrass, and mangrove habitats Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • We explored the role of food quality in herbivore preference for macroalgae by comparing consumption of Acanthophora spicifera with and without elevated tissue nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations. Algal enrichment effects on herbivory were examined in coral, seagrass, and mangrove habitats along a sparsely populated Honduran island protected from fishing. Nutrient enrichment led to significantly increased grazing by herbivores across habitats. Consumption of enriched algae increased by 91% compared to controls among the mangrove roots, where herbivory rates were generally lowest. In the heavily grazed seagrass and coral habitats, nutrient enrichment increased consumption by 30 and 20%, respectively, with the effect more spatially variable than among the mangrove roots. We suggest that, at least on the local scale, intact herbivore populations may be able to compensate for effects of increased nutrient supply by locating and consuming nutrient-enriched algae, but that the importance of this mechanism varies both among and within habitats. © Springer-Verlag 2004.

author list (cited authors)

  • Boyer, K. E., Fong, P., Armitage, A. R., & Cohen, R. A.

citation count

  • 65

publication date

  • September 2004