Marine isopods of the genus Idotea [I. balthica (Pallas, 1772), I. chelipes (Pallas, 1766), and I. granulosa Rathke, 1843] are common meso-grazers that enter deep into the Baltic Sea and here appear to live at their physiological limit, determined by salinity and temperature tolerance. We review available data on distribution and community ecology to assess the functional role of Idotea in the Baltic Sea and how global change may affect essential ecological interactions. Data from the last 150 years suggest an on-going shift southward for I. chelipes and I. granulosa that may be caused by a changing climate. Several studies report local extinctions and mass abundances, which may be caused by a changing food web from over-fishing and eutrophication. The three species of Idotea have clear habitat segregation in the Baltic Sea, where salinity, temperature and vegetation are the main dimensions. Idotea spp. have a central role as grazers and in communities dominated by the perennial macrophytes Fucus spp. and Zostera marina and attain impressive feeding rates on a range of epiphytes/filamentous algae (top-down effect). Idotea can have both a direct negative grazing effect on macrophytes but also an indirect positive effect by removing epiphytes. The relative role of nutritional value and chemical defence for food preference is yet unclear for Idotea. Baltic idoteids are also important prey for several fish (bottom-up effect) and fish predation may have increased following over-fishing of piscivorous fish. It is concluded that Idotea is a key taxon in the Baltic Sea food web, where guilds often contain few dominant species. Changes in population dynamics of Idotea, as a function of human generated global change, may have large-scale consequences for ecosystem functions in a future Baltic Sea, e.g. the extent of vegetation cover in the coastal zone.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 32 • No. 3