Scientia Marina, Vol 65, No 4 (2001)

Seasonal grazing and food preference of herbivores in a Posidonia oceanica meadow

Andrea Peirano
ENEA-Marine Environment Research Centre, Italy

Ilaria Niccolai
ENEA-Marine Environment Research Centre, Italy

Roberto Mauro
ENEA-Marine Environment Research Centre, Italy

C. Nike Bianchi
ENEA-Marine Environment Research Centre, Italy


Seasonal grazing of the fish Sarpa salpa (L.), the urchin Paracentrotus lividus Lamarck and the isopods Idotea spp. was compared with the C/N ratio of adult and intermediate leaves and epiphytes of Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, collected at three different depths. Despite seasonal differences in grazing, herbivores showed preferences throughout the year for adult leaves with more epiphyte and higher N contents. The maximum grazing on adult and intermediate leaves was observed in September and in June for fish and in March for urchins, whereas it was irregular for isopods. Grazing by the three herbivores was not related to their preference for leaves or epiphytes, notwithstanding the seasonal differences in their C and N contents. We concluded that herbivores show no preference for food type throughout the year and that seasonal consumption of P. oceanica is related mainly to herbivore behaviour.


grazing; C/N ratio; seagrass; epiphytes

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Copyright (c) 2001 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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