MEPS 489:61-74 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10423

Effects of temperature on the recruitment phenology and niche overlap of shallow epifaunal assemblages in southern New England

James F. Reinhardt1,*, Robert B. Whitlatch2, Richard W. Osman3

1Earth Resources Technology, NOAA Restoration Center, 1315 East-West Hwy, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA
2Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, 1080 Shennecossett Rd, Groton, Connecticut 06340, USA
3Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, PO Box 28, 647 Contees Wharf Road, Edgewater, Maryland 21037, USA

ABSTRACT: Recruitment phenology, or the timing of recruitment, can have a large influence on individuals and populations by affecting their exposure to adverse environmental conditions and interspecific competition. In this study, we examined whether temperature parameters could predict the timing of recruitment, the duration of recruitment and total recruitment in 18 benthic epifaunal species using partial least squares regression (PLSR) and ordinary least squares regression. Additionally, we used a null model to test whether temperature parameters and inter-annual variation in those parameters affect the temporal niche overlap of these benthic species. We specifically examined the recruitment patterns of non-native species to help illustrate how shifts in phenology may help drive changes in the community composition. Results from the PLSR helped determine the most instructive regressors for univariate least-squares models. For many (14 of 18) of the species examined, recruitment patterns could be predicted by seasonal growing degree days. Additionally, communities at cooler sites exhibited greater temporal niche overlap than assemblages found at warmer sites. Finally, we observed a unique pattern among invasive species, with more recent invaders recruiting later in the season, which may be a result of shifts in niche overlap. The findings of this study illustrate potential mechanisms for species coexistence and increased rates of invasion resulting from climate change.


KEY WORDS: Recruitment · Temperature · Long Island Sound · Niche overlap · Invasive species · Phenology · Fouling community


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Cite this article as: Reinhardt JF, Whitlatch RB, Osman RW (2013) Effects of temperature on the recruitment phenology and niche overlap of shallow epifaunal assemblages in southern New England. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 489:61-74. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10423

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