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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 407:55-69 (2010)  -  DOI:

Differential patterns of distribution of limpets on intertidal seawalls: experimental investigation of the roles of recruitment, survival and competition

L. Iveša1,*, M. G. Chapman2, A. J. Underwood2, R. J. Murphy2

1Ruder Bošković Institute, Center for Marine Research, G. Paliaga 5, 52210 Rovinj, Croatia
2Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities, School of Biological Sciences A11, University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia

ABSTRACT: On artificial surfaces (seawalls) in Sydney Harbour (Australia), local biodiversity of grazers differs between sandstone and concrete constructions because limpets Siphonaria denticulata are more abundant on sandstone, while Patelloida latistrigata are more abundant on concrete walls. Competition between siphonarian and patellid limpets is unstudied on artificial structures, although the limpets are common and are known to compete in natural habitats. We tested hypotheses that the substratum (concrete or sandstone), intra- and/or interspecific competition, or a combination of factors, influence recruitment, survival, rates of grazing, or the quantity and types of algal food to explain the observed patterns. Such analyses enable better understanding of the processes influencing diversity. Both species recruited more to concrete than to sandstone plates. S. denticulata recruited more in the presence of conspecifics and slightly less in the presence of P. latistrigata. Results varied between locations and experiments, but each species survived better on concrete, which had more macro- and micro-algal food. Increased densities of P. latistrigata reduced survival of conspecifics and of S. denticulata. S. denticulata had no effect on survival of P. latistrigata, but reduced amounts of macro-algae. P. latistrigata did not affect macro-algae. Initially, there were more micro-algae on concrete and a minor effect of large densities of S. denticulata. After 95 d, differences between habitats decreased and P. latistrigata were more strongly associated with reduced amounts of micro-algae. Neither substratum, density, nor mix of limpets affected rates of grazing. Thus, interspecific interactions were similar to predictions from knowledge of natural habitats, despite the different characteristics of artificial habitats and the reduced intertidal area available for grazing. Recruitment and competition were important in explaining different densities of these limpets on sandstone and concrete walls. Increasing urbanization requires more experimental tests to identify how well current theories of intertidal ecology and of the processes maintaining local biodiversity can apply to artificial shorelines.

KEY WORDS: Artificial structures · Habitat · Competition · Grazing · Intertidal · Limpets

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Cite this article as: Iveša L, Chapman MG, Underwood AJ, Murphy RJ (2010) Differential patterns of distribution of limpets on intertidal seawalls: experimental investigation of the roles of recruitment, survival and competition. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 407:55-69.

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