Geology & Earth Science

Geology & Earth Science

Journal of Oceanography and Marine Research


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We conducted a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) study using larval di-geneans infecting the California horn snail,Cerithidea californica, to evaluate the successof an ecological restoration project at Carpinteria Salt Marsh in California, USA. Digeneantrematodes are parasites with complex life cycles requiring birds and other vertebrates asfinal hosts. We tested two hypotheses for prevalence and species richness of larval trem-atodes inC. californica: (1) prior to the restoration, sites to be restored would have lowertrematode prevalence and species richness relative to unimpacted control sites, and (2) thatthese differences would diminish after restoration. The sites to be restored were initiallydegraded for trematode species. They had a mean trematode prevalence (12%) and speciesrichness (4.5 species) that were lower than control sites (28% trematode prevalence and 7species). Despite the differences in prevalence, the proportional representation of eachtrematode species in the total community was similar between sites to be restored andcontrol sites. Over the six years following restoration, trematode prevalence nearly qua-drupled at restored sites (43%) while the prevalence at control sites (26%) remained un-changed. In addition, species richness at restored sites doubled (9 species), while speciesrichness at the control sites (7.8 species) did not change. Immediately after restoration, therelative abundance of trematode species using fishes as second intermediate hosts declinedwhile those using molluscs as second intermediate hosts increased. Trematode communitiesat restored and control sites gradually returned to being similar. We interpret the increasein trematode prevalence and species richness at restored sites to be a direct consequenceof changes in bird use of the restored habitat. This study demonstrates a new comparativetechnique for assessing wetlands, and while it does not supplant biotic surveys, it informssuch taxonomic lists. Most importantly, it provides a synthetic quantification of the linkagesamong species in wetland food webs.

This article was published in 795Ecological Applications and referenced in Journal of Oceanography and Marine Research

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