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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 497:131-142 (2014)  -  DOI:

Succession in intertidal mussel bed assemblages on different shores: species mobility matters

Nelson Valdivia1,*, Christian Buschbaum2, Martin Thiel3,4

1Universidad Austral de Chile, Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Limnológicas, Laboratorio Costero de Recursos Acuáticos Calfuco, Campus Isla Teja, Valdivia, Chile
2Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Wadden Sea Station Sylt, Hafenstrasse 43,
25992 List/Sylt, Germany
3Facultad de Ciencias de Mar, Universidad Católica del Norte, Larrondo 1281, Coquimbo, Chile
4Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Aridas (CEAZA), Coquimbo, Chile
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Biogenic substrata such as epibenthic mussel aggregations are common in coastal regions worldwide and harbour diverse assemblages of sessile and mobile species. However, colonisation patterns on biogenic substrata are still not well understood. We tested whether succession develops as a linear sequence of temporal changes in the species richness and community structure of sessile and mobile assemblages associated with intertidal mussel beds of sedimentary and rocky shores in Germany and Chile, respectively. Because of their broad differences, these study sites were analysed separately to examine whether similar successional patterns occur under differing environmental conditions and species pools. At each study site, we conducted an experiment that separates the effects of successional age (deployment duration) and the time when settlement substrata are deployed (deployment timing). Colonisation dynamics differed between timings and between sessile and mobile species. In addition, timing effects were stronger at the sedimentary than at the rocky study site. For sessile organisms, for example, species richness increased steadily with successional age at both study sites, but at the sedimentary site, the magnitude of this increase varied between the different months of deployment. For mobile organisms, a high proportion of the total species pool colonised the settlement substrata within the first month of deployment at both sites. After this initial colonization peak, mobile species richness showed a minor but significant increase with successional age at both sites. We suggest that species dispersal ability at the local scale (mobility) mediates the response of species-rich assemblages to natural and anthropogenic disturbances.

KEY WORDS:  Context-dependency · Determinism · Facilitation · Hard-bottom · Soft-bottom · Stochastic · Succession

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Cite this article as: Valdivia N, Buschbaum C, Thiel M (2014) Succession in intertidal mussel bed assemblages on different shores: species mobility matters. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 497:131-142.

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