The role of small fish species in eelgrass food webs of the Baltic Sea
The present study combines descriptive and experimental approaches to investigate communities of small fish species and the trophic relationships between these fishes and epiphyte grazers in two Zostera marina beds (Kiel Fjord, Greifswald Lagoon)of the Baltic Sea. In conclusion, this study shows that crustacean grazers constitute the key diet for the majority of small eelgrass-associated fish species in Falkenstein eelgrass beds. Spinachia is the most important predator of these grazers, foraging effectively and successfully in dense vegetation and under bottom oxygen deficiencies in eelgrass habitat. Spinachia exhibits a high capacity to regulate crustacean grazer populations in the eelgrass beds.