How does burrowing by the isopod Limnoria agrostisa (Crustacea: Limnoriidae) affect the leaf canopy of the southern Australian seagrass Amphibolis griffithii?

Anne Brearley, Gary Kendrick, Diana Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In south-western Australia, the isopod Limnoria agrostisa commonly burrows into leaf clusters and immature shoots of Amphibolis griffithii. The isopod also burrows into the sheath and rhizomes of Posidonia species. In A. griffithii, the isopod consumes new tissue within the sheath, damaging or destroying the meristem. This results in malformation of new leaves or destruction of whole leaf clusters with the potential to reduce the photosynthetic area of a shoot. The isopod has been found in all but one meadow of A. griffithii examined over 1,000 km of the Western Australian coastline. It was present throughout the year and showed little variation in abundance. Young were produced year round, but were more abundant in the summer months. Females, 3.5 mm in length or larger, produced 2-5 young that were brooded within the leaf cluster or base of an immature shoot. Within a meadow, 40-70% of shoots and 10-20% of leaf clusters were damaged by isopods. Seasonal trends were not consistent, but damage appeared to be higher in summer when isopod abundance was higher. Approximately 40% of clusters were destroyed by isopod damage. Isopods attack shoots of all ages, but damage was often located on apical clusters. There was no evidence that isopod damage initiated branching or leaf cluster formation. Estimations of clusters damaged or destroyed may be conservative, as only those clusters remaining on a shoot could be counted, and cluster loss could not be quantified. Examination of defoliated stems on upright shoots and horizontal rhizomes indicated that many were destroyed by isopods. The effect of L. agrostisa although substantial appears to be a feature of healthy seagrasses throughout southern Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-77
JournalMarine Biology
Volume156
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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