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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 373:25-35 (2008)  -  DOI:

Distributional overlap rather than habitat differentiation characterizes co-occurrence of bivalves in intertidal soft sediment systems

Tanya J. Compton1,2,3,*, Tineke A. Troost1, Jaap van der Meer1, Casper Kraan1,2, Pieter J. C. Honkoop1, Danny I. Rogers4, Grant B. Pearson3, Petra de Goeij1, Pierrick Bocher5, Marc S. S. Lavaleye1, Jutta Leyrer1,2, Mick G. Yates6, Anne Dekinga1, Theunis Piersma1,2

1Department of Marine Ecology, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
2Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, PO Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands
3Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), WA Wildlife Research Centre, PO Box 51, Wanneroo, Western Australia 6065, Australia
4Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 789, Albury, New South Wales 2640, Australia
5Centre de Recherche sur les Ecosystèmes Littoraux Anthropisés (CRELA), UMR 6217, Pôle science, CNRS-IFREMER-Université de la Rochelle, La Rochelle 17042, France
6Centre for Ecology and Hydrology—Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE28 2LS, UK

ABSTRACT: Diverse species assemblages are often associated with a diversity of habitat structures. Sedimentary systems seem to be no exception, as within sedimentary systems benthic species diversity within a sample point appears to correlate with sediment grain size complexity. However, it remains to be shown whether total benthic species diversity relates to a system’s sediment heterogeneity across multiple systems. In the present paper we examined whether bivalve diversity is associated with: (1) sediment heterogeneity across systems and (2) sediment grain size complexity within systems, at 9 temperate and tropical tidal flat systems. Although bivalve life-history strategies, like post-settlement habitat selection, might suggest that sediment heterogeneity should be important for bivalve species, bivalve diversity and sediment heterogeneity were not associated across systems. Interestingly, the association between total benthic diversity and sediment heterogeneity was also not significant, suggesting that changing species composition across systems does not account for the lack of a correlation between bivalve diversity and sediment heterogeneity. Instead of habitat differentiation, bivalve diversity within a sample point was highest in ‘complex’ fine-grained sediments and bivalve distributions showed a large degree of distributional overlap in all systems. The results of this study at both smaller and larger spatial scales suggest that coexistence between bivalve species in diverse tidal flats is not associated with increased sediment heterogeneity.

KEY WORDS: Sediment diversity · Banc d’Arguin · Roebuck Bay · The Wash · Wadden Sea · Mont Saint-Michel Bay · Marennes-Oléron Bay · Aiguillon Bay

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Cite this article as: Compton TJ, Troost TA, van der Meer J, Kraan C and others (2008) Distributional overlap rather than habitat differentiation characterizes co-occurrence of bivalves in intertidal soft sediment systems. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 373:25-35.

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