In the Everglades, where the wetlands naturally have a low concentration of nutrients, periphyton is one of the most important sources of primary productivity. Periphyton is an algal mat composed primarily of blue-green algae, green algae, and diatoms. The researchers conducted field experiments that caged eastern mosquitofish and grass shrimp with and without periphyton. Periphyton was also isolated in cages that excluded the two omnivores. The effect of the omnivores on the periphyton was determined to be weak in comparison to what was expected. This study included a companion laboratory experiment that showed mosquitofish were better able to feed on shaken periphyton mats than on intact mats. The results of this research provide important insight to the complex role of periphyton as a food source in an oligotrophic environment.
Last updated: February 16, 2018