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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 453:107-116 (2012)  -  DOI:

Increasing density of rare species of intertidal gastropods: tests of competitive ability compared with common species

Miguel G. Matias1,3,*, M. G. Chapman1, A. J. Underwood1, Nessa E. O’Connor2

1Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities, Marine Ecology Laboratories A11, The University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia
2School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK
3Present address: Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution, UMR CNRS-UM2 5554, Université Montpellier 2, CC 065, Place Eugene Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier cedex 05, France

ABSTRACT: Many assemblages contain numerous rare species, which can show large increases in abundances. Common species can become rare. Recent calls for experimental tests of the causes and consequences of rarity prompted us to investigate competition between co-existing rare and common species of intertidal gastropods. In various combinations, we increased densities of rare gastropod species to match those of common species to evaluate effects of intra- and interspecific competition on growth and survival of naturally rare or naturally common species at small and large densities. Rarity per se did not cause responses of rare species to differ from those of common species. Rare species did not respond to the abundances of other rare species, nor show consistently different responses from those of common species. Instead, individual species responded differently to different densities, regardless of whether they are naturally rare or abundant. This type of experimental evidence is important to be able to predict the effects of increased environmental variability on rare as opposed to abundant species and therefore, ultimately, on the structure of diverse assemblages.

KEY WORDS: Additive-design · Competition · Gastropods · Species-abundance · Rarity

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Cite this article as: Matias MG, Chapman MG, Underwood AJ, O’Connor NE (2012) Increasing density of rare species of intertidal gastropods: tests of competitive ability compared with common species. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 453:107-116.

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