Marine Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 335–348 | Cite as

Comparative species richness, composition, and abundance of invertebrates in Caribbean seagrass (Thalassia testudinum) meadows (Panamá)

  • K. L. HeckJr.


The results of a year-long study in which epibenthic invertebrates were collected monthly from seagrass (Thalassia testudinum) meadows along the Caribbean coast of Panamá and the Panamá Canal Zone are described in this paper. Differences in species composition and abundance among sites were primarily due to the proximity of surrounding habitats, especially coral reefs, which contain a number of species that utilize the seagrass meadows. In contrast to many previous characterizations of tropical marine habitats, important seasonal fluctuations in both species number and abundance took place at each of the sites. Data on breeding activity among several species of decapod crustaceans indicate year-round reproduction, although considerable seasonal differences occur in the percentage of ovigerous females. These interspecific differences in observed reproductive output may be explained by differences in life-cycle length, a factor not often considered in discussions of seasonal breeding patterns in tropical marine invertebrates. Overall species composition was qualitatively similar to that reported in comparable studies of tropical and subtropical seagrass meadows elsewhere, although caridean shrimp and xanthid orab species were reduced in number and total abundance were much lower than in previous studies.


Coral Reef Seagrass Meadow Decapod Crustacean Ovigerous Female Breeding Activity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Clifford, H.T. and W. Stephenson: An introduction to numerical classification, 229 pp. New York: Academic Press 1974Google Scholar
  2. Copeland, B.J.: Estuarine classification and responses to disturbances. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 99, 826–835 (1970)Google Scholar
  3. Ewald, J.J.: Observations on the biology of Tozeuma carolinense from Florida with special reference to larval development. Bull. mar. Sci. 19, 510–549 (1969)Google Scholar
  4. Fleming, T.H. and R.S. Hooker: Anolis cupreus: the response of a lizard to tropical seasonality. Ecology 56, 1243–1262 (1975)Google Scholar
  5. Glynn, P.W.: Some common marine invertebrates of the shallow waters of Puerto Rico. In: Historia natural de Puerto Rico, pp 12–20. Mayagüez: Universidad do Puerto Rico 1964Google Scholar
  6. —: Mass mortalities of echinoids and other reef flat organisms coincident with midday, low water exposures in Puerto Rico. Mar. Biol. 1, 226–243 (1968)Google Scholar
  7. —: Observations on the ecology of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Panamá. Bull. biol. Soc. Wash. 1972 (2), 13–30 (1972)Google Scholar
  8. Heck, K.L., Jr.: Community organization in tropical and temperate seagrass (Tallassia testudinum) meadows, 96 pp. Ph.D. Dissertation, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 1976aGoogle Scholar
  9. —: Community structure and the effects of pollution in sea-grass meadows and adjacent habitats. Mar. Biol. 35, 345–357 (1976b)Google Scholar
  10. —, G. van Belle and D.S. Simberloff: Explicit calculation of the rarefaction diversity measurement and the determination of sufficient sample size. Ecology 56, 1459–1461 (1975)Google Scholar
  11. Heck, K.L., Jr. and G.S. Wetstone: Habitat complexity and invertebrate species richness and abundance in tropical seagrass meadows. J. Biogeogr. 4, (In press) (1977)Google Scholar
  12. Hollander, M. and D.A. Wolfe: Nonparametric statistics, 503 pp. New York: John Wiley & Sons 1973Google Scholar
  13. Hooks, T.A., K.L. Heck, Jr. and R.J. Livingston: An inshore marine invertebrate community: structure and habitat associations in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Bull. mar. Sci. 26, 99–109 (1976)Google Scholar
  14. Horn, H.S.: Measures of “overlap” in comparative ecological studies. Am. Nat. 100, 419–424 (1966)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jackson, J.B.C.: The ecology of molluscs of Thalassia communities, Jamaica, West Indies. II. Molluscan population variability along an environmental stress gradient. Mar. Biol. 14, 304–337 (1972)Google Scholar
  16. Kinne, O.: Physiology of estuarine organisms with special reference to salinity and temperature: general aspects. In: Estuaries, pp 525–540. Ed. by G.H. Lauff. Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science 1967. (Publs Am. Ass. Advmt Sci. No. 83)Google Scholar
  17. Livingston, R.J.: Impact of kraft pulp-mill effluents on estuarine and coastal fishes in Apalachee Bay, Florida. USA. Mar. Biol. 32, 19–48 (1975)Google Scholar
  18. MacArthur, R.H.: Patterns of communities in the tropics. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 1, 19–30 (1969)Google Scholar
  19. Meyer, D.L. and C. Birkeland: Environmental sciences program marine studies. In: 1973 Environmental monitoring and baseline studies-tropical studies, pp 129–254. Ed. by R. Rubinoff. Washington: Smithsonian Institution 1974Google Scholar
  20. Moore, H.B.: Aspects of stress in the tropical marine environment. Adv. mar. Biol. 10, 217–269 (1972)Google Scholar
  21. Morisita, M.: Measurement of interspecific association and similarity between communities. Mem. Fac. Kyushu Univ. (Ser. E) 3, 65–80 (1959)Google Scholar
  22. Murina, V.V., V.D. Chukhchin, O. Gomez and G. Suarez: Quantitative distribution of bottom macrofauna in the upper sublittoral zone of the northwestern part of Cuba. In: Investigations of the central American seas, pp 242–259. New Dehli: Indian National Science Documentation Centre 1974Google Scholar
  23. Odum, H.T.: Tropical marine meadows. In: Coastal ecological systems of the United States. pp 442–487. Ed. by H.T. Odum, B.J. Copeland and E.A. McMahon. Washington: The Conservation Foundation 1974Google Scholar
  24. Randall, J.E.: Food habits of reef fishes in the West Indies. Stud. trop. Oceanogr. 5, 665–847 (1967)Google Scholar
  25. Roessler, M.A., G.L. Beardsley, R. Rehrer and J. Garcia: Effects of thermal effluents on the fishes and benthic invertebrates of Biscayne Bay-Card Sound, Florida. Tech. Rep. UM-RSMAS-75027, 1–214 (1974)Google Scholar
  26. Simpson, E.H.: Measurement of diversity. Nature, Lond. 163, p. 688 (1949)Google Scholar
  27. Starck, W.A.: Biology of the gray snapper, Lutjanus griseus (Linnaeus), in the Florida Keys. Stud. trop. Oceanogr. 10, 11–150 (1971)Google Scholar
  28. Tabb, D.C., D. Dubrow and R. Manning: The ecology of northern Florida Bay and adjacent estuaries. Tech. Ser. Fla St. Bd Conserv. 39, 1–79 (1962)Google Scholar
  29. Taylor, C.C.: Nature of variability in trawl catches. Fish. Bull. Fish Wildl. Serv. U.S. 54, 145–166 (1953)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. L. HeckJr.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboa, Canal Zone
  3. 3.Benedict Estuarine Research LaboratoryAcademy of Natural Science of PhiladelphiaBenedictUSA

Personalised recommendations