Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Environmental Studies

Advisor's Name

Ross Boucek

Advisor's Title

Committee chair

Advisor's Name

Craig Layman

Advisor's Name

Aaron Adams

Advisor's Name

Michael Heithaus

Keywords

Resource partitioning, ecotone, diet, mesoconsumers

Date of Defense

11-14-2011

Abstract

Pulse subsidies account for a substantial proportion of resource availability in many systems, having persistent and cascading effects on consumer population dynamics, and the routing of energy within and across ecosystem boundaries. Although the importance of resource pulses is well-established, consumer responses and the extent of resource partitioning is not well understood. I identified a pulse of marsh cyprinodontoid, invertebrate, and sunfish prey, entering an estuary, which was met by an influx of both marsh and estuarine predators. In response to the pulse, consumers showed marked diet segregation. Bass consumed significantly more cyprinodontoids, bowfin consumed significantly more invertebrates, and snook almost exclusively targeted sunfishes. The diversity of the resource pulse subsidizes multiple consumers, routing pulsed production through various trophic pathways and across ecosystem boundaries. Preserving complex trophic linkages like those of the Everglades ecotone may be important to maintaining ecosystem function and the provisioning of services, such as recreational fisheries.

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