Abstract

Ecologists have been largely interested in the description and understanding of the power scaling relationships between body size and abundance of organisms. Many studies have focused on estimating the exponents of these functions across taxonomic groups and spatial scales, to draw inferences about the processes underlying this pattern. The exponents of these functions usually approximate -3/4 at geographical scales, but they deviate from this value when smaller spatial extensions are considered. This has led to propose that body size-abundance relationships at small spatial scales may reflect the impact of environmental changes. This study tests this hypothesis by examining body size spectra of benthic shrimps (Decapoda: Caridea) and snails (Gastropoda) in the Tamiahua lagoon, a brackish body water located in the Eastern coast of Mexico. We measured water quality parameters (dissolved oxygen, salinity, pH, water temperature, sediment organic matter and chemical oxygen demand) and sampled benthic macrofauna during three different climatic conditions of the year (cold, dry and rainy season). Given the small size of most individuals in the benthic macrofaunal samples, we used body volume, instead of weight, to estimate their body size. Body size-abundance relationships of both taxonomic groups were described by tabulating data from each season into base-2 logarithmic body size bins. In both taxonomic groups, observed frequencies per body size class in each season were standardized to yield densities (i.e., individuals/m3). Nonlinear regression analyses were separately performed for each taxonomic group at each season to assess whether body size spectra followed power scaling functions. Additionally, for each taxonomic group, multiple regression analyses were used to determine whether these relationships varied among seasons. Our results indicated that, while body size-abundance relationships in both taxonomic groups followed power functions, the parameters defining the shape of these relationships varied among seasons. These variations in the parameters of the body size-abundance relationships seems to be related to changes in the abundance of individuals within the different body size classes, which seems to follow the seasonal changes that occur in the environmental conditions of the lagoon. Thus, we propose that these body size-abundance relationships are influenced by the frequency and intensity of environmental changes affecting this ecosystem.

Keywords: allometry, energetic equivalence, Mexico, non-equilibrium, power functions, seasonal changes.