The Role of Grazers within the SAV Community and Their Contribution to Ecosystem Complexity in Mesocosm Experiments
Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) is a vital part of the natural ecological functioning of estuarine environments. SAV within the Chesapeake Bay has been declining steadily, and it has had an impact on many levels within the estuarine system. Research has been and is continuing to be done to determine the causes for their decline. The Multiscale Experimental Ecosystem Research Center has been conducting studies at Horn Point Environmental Laboratory dealing with various aspects of SAV within the Bay. One portion of their research deals with the relationship of complexity to ecosystem functioning and more specifically deals with the role of grazers and predators within the SAV community. The grazers selected were an amphipod, Gammarus rnucronatus and a snail, Hydrobia sp. The predator species was a banded killifish, Fundulus diaphanus. Methods were developed to handle and quantify amphipods for means of experimental documentation and prepare the way for a correlation to be made between grazer density and epiphytic covering.