Short Communication

Tube-forming polychaetes enhance invertebrate diversity and abundance in sandy sediments of Mozambique, Africa

  • MS Thomsen
  • MF Muth
  • KJ McGlathery

Abstract

In marine soft-bottom systems, polychaetes can increase habitat complexity by constructing rigid tubes (e.g. several onuphid species) that contrast with  surrounding topographically flat sediments. These structures can provide  predation refuges and increase larval settlement and thereby increase the richness and abundance of fauna. We collected invertebrate samples from an  intertidal flat with low onuphid tube density (2.7 m–2) in Mozambique and document that more organisms (70 times higher mollusc abundances) and more  species (15 times more mollusc species) were found associated with solitary tubes of an onuphid polychaete compared with surrounding sand habitats. These results are in agreement with tube versus sand comparisons from soft-bottom systems in the North Atlantic where polychaete tube densities are often much higher.

Keywords: habitat formation, onuphid polychaete, species richness, western Indian Ocean

African Journal of Marine Science 2011, 33(2): 327–332

Author Biographies

MS Thomsen
Marine Department, National Environmental Research Institute, University of Aarhus, PO Box 4000, Roskilde, Denmark; School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, Crawley 6009 WA, Australia
MF Muth
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 291 McCormick Rd, Clark Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA
KJ McGlathery
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 291 McCormick Rd, Clark Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1814-2338
print ISSN: 1814-232X