MEPS 522:145-156 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11132

Orientation in a keystone grazer: interactions between habitat and individual identity drive patterns of resting behaviour

Clarissa M. L. Fraser1,*, Ross A. Coleman1, Frank Seebacher2

1Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities, School of Biological Sciences, Marine Ecology Laboratories (A11), The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
2School of Biological Sciences, Heydon-Laurence Building (A08), The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Quantification of factors that modulate small-scale, individual patterns of location and behaviour is fundamental for ecology, as the behaviour of animals within habitats affects many components of fitness. At the smallest scale, animals show variations in orientation, which can interact with small-scale habitat variability and is probably modified by individual identity. Limpets on steeply-sloped substrata have a population-level downwards bias in orientation. We tested the hypotheses that (1) patterns of orientation are maintained by limpets orientating in the same direction when located within the same resting site, and (2) that the strength of this relationship depends on the identity of an individual. We showed that microhabitat level variation contributed strongly to orientation patterns. Different limpets occupying the same resting site orientated in the same direction, and this pattern was consistent at multiple temporal scales. In resting sites occupied by the same limpet, the strength of the association between habitat and orientation increased. The assumption that environmental factors drive patterns of orientation is widespread, but we have demonstrated that habitat properties may be equally as important. Ecologists must be conscious of habitat properties and individual identity when trying to understand the distribution and alignment of individuals.


KEY WORDS: Limpet · Vertical slopes · Rocky intertidal · Individual selection · Alignment


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Cite this article as: Fraser CML, Coleman RA, Seebacher F (2015) Orientation in a keystone grazer: interactions between habitat and individual identity drive patterns of resting behaviour. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 522:145-156. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11132

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