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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 433:29-41 (2011)  -  DOI:

Coupling between macrofauna community structure and beach type: a deconstructive meta-analysis

Omar Defeo1,*, Anton McLachlan2

1UNDECIMAR, Facultad de Ciencias, Iguá 4225, 11400 Montevideo, Uruguay
2The University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia

ABSTRACT: Species richness and abundance of macrofauna on sandy shores increase from microtidal reflective to macrotidal dissipative beach conditions. However, no attempt has been made to deconstruct these patterns. Using information on the macrofauna from 63 microtidal sandy beach surveys in South America, we deconstructed the community to discriminate among taxonomic groups, supralittoral and intertidal forms, and groups with different feeding habits and development modes. We also separated the effects of development mode and beach zone (intertidal vs. supralittoral) at the species level and scaled body size to density estimates. Total species richness decreased towards reflective beaches, but this trend was less marked in crustaceans than in molluscs or polychaetes. Supralittoral air-breathing crustaceans increased in richness and abundance from dissipative to reflective conditions, a reverse trend to that seen in intertidal crustaceans. Development modes (species with direct development and with planktonic larvae) showed the same response to beach type as the community as a whole. Filter feeders, scavengers and deposit feeders showed the same trend, but the latter were scarce or absent on reflective beaches. Zone was more important than either development or feeding modes in determining individual species responses to beach type. Body size decreased and density increased from reflective to dissipative beaches, suggesting that smaller forms are more sensitive to harsh conditions where density is lower, and hence there is less scope for biological interactions in reflective beaches. The deconstruction approach provided insights into the relationships between life cycle characteristics and richness and abundance patterns and the relative importance of environmental variables in beach ecology.

KEY WORDS: Species richness · Sandy beaches · Deconstruction · Morphodynamics · Body size

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Cite this article as: Defeo O, McLachlan A (2011) Coupling between macrofauna community structure and beach type: a deconstructive meta-analysis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 433:29-41.

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