Spatial and Temporal Variability of Macrobenthic Communities in Tidepools on a Rocky Shore in Nova-Scotia, Canada
Scheibling, Robert Eric
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Spatial and temporal patterns in the distribution and abundance of macroalgae and macrofauna were measured in 4 pools in each of 3 intertidal zones (mid, high and splash) on a rocky shore near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Sheets, filamentous, coarsely branched, thick leathery, jointed calcareous, and crustose forms were the most abundant macroalgal functional groups, and mussels, littorinid snails and whelks were the most abundant macroinvertebrates in the pools. Percentage cover of the late-successional macroalgal forms, such as thick leathery and crustose forms, was greatest in the mid pools where environmental fluctuations are smaller and more predictable. Percentage cover of the more opportunistic forms, such as sheets and filamentous algae, was variable among pools in all zones, whereas percentage cover of the other functional forms was most variable among mid pools on most sampling dates. Mussels and whelks were more abundant in mid pools, whereas littorines were more abundant in the high pools. Macrofaunal abundance also was variable among pools within most zones on most sampling dates. Multiple regressions showed that grazer density, nutrient regime and physical characteristics of the tidepools can consistently explain the variability in percentage cover of late-successional macroalgal functional forms, but not of the more opportunistic forms. The horizontal spatial variability in percentage cover of macroalgae may result from differential recruitment of opportunistic forms, and/or differences in the physical characteristics of the pools which affect slow-growing, late-successional forms. The Shannon Diversity Index for the macroalgal and the macrofaunal assemblages was greatest in mid pools, suggesting that a smaller number of macroalgal and macroinvertebrate species can survive in the higher pools where conditions are harsher. Cluster analyses showed that the macroalgal assemblages were mostly similar among mid pools, and that macrofaunal assemblages of mid pools were similar to high pools, but not splash pools. Our study shows that macrobenthic community structure in tidepools does not vary consistently with the period of tidal isolation and there is large variability among pools within intertidal zones.
METAXAS, A., HL HUNT, and RE SCHEIBLING. 1994. "Spatial and Temporal Variability of Macrobenthic Communities in Tidepools on a Rocky Shore in Nova-Scotia, Canada." Marine Ecology Progress Series 105(1-2): 89-103. doi:10.3354/meps105089