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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 275:33-45 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps275033

Multitrophic interactions mediate recruitment variability in a rocky intertidal community

Samantha E. Forde*, Daniel F. Doak

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA

ABSTRACT: Environmentally induced variability in recruitment rates can result in population variability in both space and time. However, fluctuations in population sizes are also governed by species interactions. While both these processes have been widely explored, fewer efforts have been made to investigate their combined effects. The goal of this study was to investigate how environmentally induced recruitment variability combines with species interactions to influence the structure and dynamics of a simple multi-trophic rocky intertidal community. We first simulated spatial differences and temporal fluctuations in larval supply and subsequent recruitment, and found that the effects of temporal variability on community stability depended on spatial differences in mean larval supply. Next, we explored how removal of specific species influenced these patterns. These simulations showed that predatory and competitive interactions can have contrasting effects on community stability in response to recruitment variability, which depend on the life history of the predator. Our results show the difficulty of isolating questions of community response to spatial and temporal recruitment variability from each other or from a consideration of community structure in general.

KEY WORDS: Recruitment variability · Community variability · Community stability · Rocky intertidal

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