Settlement Dynamics of the Encrusting Epibenthic Macrofauna in Two Creeks of the Caeté Mangrove Estuary (North Brazil)

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The epibenthic encrusting fauna of 2 creeks of the Caeté mangrove estuary, northern Brazil, was studied over a 13 month period using collectors fixed at 2.5 and 3.5 m above the creek bottom and in which upper and lower sides of ceramic and wooden panels were used as settlement substrates. The number of individuals of the most abundant organisms (barnacles, oysters and mussels) settling per panel was determined each month, for each substrate type, panel orientation and height above creek bottom. The barnacle, Fistulobalanus citerosum has a peak settlement period during the wet season whereas both peaks in the numbers of settlers of the oyster Crassostrea rhizophorae were recorded during the dry season and such discrete temporal patterns in settlement have also been observed for barnacles and oysters in other mangroves and estuaries. In contrast to other studies, settlement of the mussel Mytella falcata was generally low during the study period and may be related to over-exploitation of stocks in the region. Overall, settler density was usually greater on the underside of ceramic panels close to the creek bottom, similar to results of other studies of epibenthic settlement in diverse habitats.

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