Omnivory and periphyton mats: uncoupling and quantifying consumer effects in the Florida Everglades Thesis

thesis or dissertation chair

fiu authors

  • Geddes, Pamela


  • The role of omnivores in structuring communities is poorly understood. I studied the effect of two abundant omnivores, grass shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosas) and eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki), on periphyton biomass of the Florida Everglades. I performed field experiments to test for consumer top-down and “complex” top-down effects on periphyton biomass. My experiments suggested that shrimp and mosquitofish had consumptive effects on periphyton but in many instances, periphyton wet weight, AFDM, and chlorophyll a increased significantly with shrimp or fish density, suggesting compensation by nutrient regeneration or trophic cascade processes. I propose that characteristic periphyton mat structure and integrity deters herbivory and affects the outcome of the periphyton-consumer interaction. Results from a descriptive study and a laboratory experiment support this hypothesis. Overall, consumption by shrimp and mosquitofish was significant, but coupled with and sometimes compensated by “complex” top-down effects, making these consumers “functional” omnivores.

publication date

  • July 21, 1999

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)