The productive plant populations of the salt-marsh estuary support abundant populations of animals. Ranging in size from small cope pods, polychaete worms, and snails to large fishes, birds, and mammals, these macroconsumers share the need to obtain sufficient energy-rich organic carbon to meet the demands of maintenance and reproduction. These demands and the manner in which they are met form the subject of this chapter and the next. In this chapter we consider the aquatic macroconsumers and in Chapter 5 the terrestrial ones. Because the marsh is alternately flooded and drained, certain problems of classification and definition inevitably arise. The distinction is somewhat contrived, but convenient. In general, “aquatic” denotes those organisms that live in the intertidal area or in the tidal creeks and are constantly or periodically submerged. Their trophic relationships generally begin with algae or Spartina detritus. Fiddler crabs (Uca), mussels (Geukensia), mullet (Mugil), blue crab (Callinectes), and shrimp (Penaeus, Palaemonetes) are all examples of aquatic macroconsumers found in the Sapelo Island ecosystem.
KeywordsSalt Marsh Blue Crab Tidal Creek Benthic Alga Deposit Feeder
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