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