MEPS 428:1-12 (2011)  -  doi:10.3354/meps09124

FEATURE ARTICLE
Topographic complexity and landscape temperature patterns create a dynamic habitat structure on a rocky intertidal shore

Justin J. Meager*, Thomas A. Schlacher, Mahdi Green

Faculty of Science, Health and Education, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Queensland 4558, Australia

ABSTRACT: Habitat complexity is a fundamental driver of ecosystem structure and function. Rocky intertidal shores are the classic model system for investigating theoretical and mechanistic models of habitat complexity, because the structural topography is largely biologically independent and stable over time. In the present study, we investigate how static (topographic complexity and heterogeneity) and dynamic (temperature landscape) components of habitat structure influence the abundance and body-size distribution of invertebrates on a rocky shore. Using a novel approach that included high-resolution 3D fractal surface and temperature measurements, we show that topographic complexity, temperature landscape and habitat heterogeneity had largely independent effects on species abundance and body size. Invertebrate abundance was associated with temperature landscape in 7 of 11 species, while variation in body-size was mostly driven by fractal topography in 7 of 10 species. Overall, the body size-abundance relationship was not influenced by habitat structure, indicating that the effects of habitat structure on body size and abundance were largely independent. The results illustrate the value of combining measures of static and dynamic habitat structure to explain and predict biological patterns on rocky shores.


KEY WORDS: Habitat structure · Rocky intertidal · Invertebrates · Fractal topography · Body-size spectra


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Cite this article as: Meager JJ, Schlacher TA, Green M (2011) Topographic complexity and landscape temperature patterns create a dynamic habitat structure on a rocky intertidal shore. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 428:1-12

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