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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 631:117-126 (2019)  -  DOI:

Interaction of natural and anthropogenic stressors on rocky shores: community resistance to trampling

María M. Mendez1,2,*, Juan P. Livore1, Gregorio Bigatti1,2,3

1Laboratorio de Reproducción y Biología Integrativa de Invertebrados Marinos (IBIOMAR-CCT CONICET CENPAT), Puerto Madryn U9120ACD, Argentina
2Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco, Sede Puerto Madryn, Puerto Madryn U9120ACD, Argentina
3Universidad Espíritu Santo, Samborondón 092301, Ecuador
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The response of ecosystems to human stressors can be affected by local natural disturbance conditions, yet the effects of a given combination of human and natural stressors are hard to predict as there are few studies on the subject. In the present work, we studied the effects of varying intensities of trampling (i.e. human stressor) on mussel beds at 2 sites characterized by distinct wave disturbance regimes (i.e. natural stressor) on southwestern Atlantic rocky shores (Patagonia, Argentina). We found that mussels at a wave-exposed site had greater attachment and compressive strength than mussels from a wave-protected site. These enhanced physical attributes, therefore, were expected to provide wave-exposed communities with higher resistance to human trampling. This prediction was supported, with mussel cover loss on experimentally trampled plots being lower on the wave-exposed shore than on the wave-protected shore for all intensities applied. Our results show antagonistic effects of a natural (wave exposure) and an anthropogenic (trampling) stressor on the same type of rocky shore community. As human stressors are intensifying globally, studies assessing the combined effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances are needed to properly understand how similar communities may be affected under varying natural conditions. This information is fundamental in order to propose appropriate conservation actions.

KEY WORDS: Natural disturbance · Trampling · Mussel beds · Rocky intertidal · Mytillidae

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Cite this article as: Mendez MM, Livore JP, Bigatti G (2019) Interaction of natural and anthropogenic stressors on rocky shores: community resistance to trampling. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 631:117-126.

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