MEPS 575:17-29 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12216

Spatio-temporal variability in Mediterranean rocky shore microphytobenthos

E. Maggi1,2,*, L. Rindi1,2, M. Dal Bello1,2,5, D. Fontanini3, A. Capocchi3, L. Bongiorni4, L. Benedetti-Cecchi1,2

1Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Pisa, Via Derna 1, 56126 Pisa, Italy
2CoNISMa, Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare, 00196 Rome, Italy
3Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Pisa, Via L. Ghini 13, 56126 Pisa, Italy
4Istituto di Scienze Marine - Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (ISMAR-CNR), Arsenale - Tesa 104, Castello 2737/F, 30122 Venezia, Italy
5Present address: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Knowledge of spatio-temporal variability of assemblages is the first step in identifying key factors affecting the abundance and distribution of organisms. Despite a long history of ecological studies on rocky intertidal habitats, there is still a lack of basic knowledge about the microphytobenthic components. We investigated the spatio-temporal variability of microphytobenthos in the northwest Mediterranean at multiple scales, including both seasonal and daily observations, as well as its composition. Spatial variability of microphytobenthic biomass varied significantly with season, with an increase in small-scale variance from cold to warm periods. Furthermore, during warmer months, small-scale variances (tens to hundreds of centimeters) were larger than large-scale components (tens to thousands of meters). These results suggest large spatio-temporal variation in the processes driving variation in microphytobenthic assemblages, including interactive effects among stressful abiotic conditions, substratum topography and grazing. In addition, observed variability on a daily scale suggested that microphytobenthos at the study site (dominated by cyanobacteria) might cope with stressful environmental conditions through both physiological and behavioral strategies at micro-spatial scales, including small movements within the substratum. Additional research on ecological and physiological aspects of rocky shore microphytobenthos is needed to better understand its role within interaction webs and primary productivity processes.


KEY WORDS: Spatio-temporal variability · Microphytobenthos · Daily variation · Bacterial diversity · Rocky shore · Mediterranean Sea


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Cite this article as: Maggi E, Rindi L, Dal Bello M, Fontanini D, Capocchi A, Bongiorni L, Benedetti-Cecchi L (2017) Spatio-temporal variability in Mediterranean rocky shore microphytobenthos. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 575:17-29. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12216

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