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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 457:67-83 (2012)  -  DOI:

Geographic variation in resilience: an experimental evaluation of four rocky intertidal assemblages

Letitia L. Conway-Cranos1,2,*

1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95060, USA
2Present address: Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, Washington 98112, USA

ABSTRACT: Resilience is an increasingly important aspect of ecological theory and management, yet natural variation in resilience remains poorly understood. I quantified spatial variation in resilience by calculating recovery rates and trajectories in the rocky intertidal ecosystem across biogeographic regions along the coast of California in 4 intertidal assemblages dominated by taxa with contrasting dispersal distances, lifespans, and trophic positions. Here I have shown that resilience itself can vary dramatically across taxa and biogeographic regions and that this variation may be understood in the context of the life history characteristics, the ecology of the disturbed taxa, and the pathway by which recovery occurs. Overall, the barnacle and turf algal assemblages displayed the fastest recovery rates, while the mussel and rockweed assemblages showed recovery rates that were the slowest and most variable. Significant variation in both recovery rates and trajectories across regions in the invertebrate-dominated assemblages indicated that regional differences in the delivery of propagules were potential drivers in differences in recovery rates for these taxa. By contrast, regionally varying recovery trajectories, but not recovery rates, in the algal-dominated assemblages suggested difference in timing of key events driving the recovery process. The effect of disturbance magnitude on recovery rates was consistent across regions for the mussel and rockweed assemblages, but in the barnacle and turf algal assemblages, the effect of disturbance size differed across regions, indicating variability in processes that drive edge effects. In all 4 assemblages, geographic differences in recovery trajectories outweighed differences across disturbance sizes.

KEY WORDS: Resilience · Recovery · Succession · Intertidal · Chthamalus · Mytilus · Endocladia · Silvetia

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Cite this article as: Conway-Cranos LL (2012) Geographic variation in resilience: an experimental evaluation of four rocky intertidal assemblages. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 457:67-83.

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