MEPS 400:75-86 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/meps08418

Resistance of rocky shore assemblages of algae and invertebrates to changes in intensity and temporal variability of aerial exposure

Iacopo Bertocci1,2,*, Elena Maggi1, Stefano Vaselli1, Lisandro Benedetti-Cecchi1

1Dipartimento di Biologia, University of Pisa, CoNISMa, Via Derna 1, 56126 Pisa, Italy
2Present address: CIIMAR (Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha & Ambiental), Rua dos Bragas 289, 4050-123 Porto, Portugal

ABSTRACT: Experimental investigations of biological responses to changes in mean intensity and temporal variability of environmental conditions are key to anticipating effects of predicted climate change. We examined the ability of rocky shore organisms to resist increased levels of aerial exposure due to prolonged periods of high barometric pressure and calm sea conditions. By temporarily transplanting assemblages from the lowshore environment to mid- and high-shore habitats and varying the temporal intervals between successive transplantations, we examined the effects of intensity and temporal variability of aerial exposure. Resistance was evaluated through comparisons of multivariate and univariate response variables between transplanted cores and reference assemblages in the lowshore habitat. When differences emerged from these comparisons, we hypothesized that assemblages could shift towards those occurring under natural conditions of more severe aerial exposure. This was tested by comparing transplanted assemblages to those occurring naturally higher on the shore. The study was repeated twice to test for the generality of outcomes. Although individual taxa showed mixed responses varying between experimental trials that in some cases made their abundances similar to those occurring higher on the shore, whole assemblages and the number of taxa did not generally respond to experimental treatments. Present findings add to the few experimental investigations of the interactive effects of mean intensity and temporal variance of climatic variables, contributing to refined predictions of responses of rocky shore organisms to climate change.


KEY WORDS: Aerial exposure · Climate change · Disturbance · Environmental fluctuations · Resistance · Rocky shore · Mediterranean Sea


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Cite this article as: Bertocci I, Maggi E, Vaselli S, Benedetti-Cecchi L (2010) Resistance of rocky shore assemblages of algae and invertebrates to changes in intensity and temporal variability of aerial exposure. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 400:75-86

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