Inter-Research > MEPS > v633 > p23-36  
MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

via Mailchimp

MEPS 633:23-36 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13168

Spatial variability in subtidal hard substrate assemblages across horizontal and vertical gradients: a multi-scale approach using seafloor imaging

Kolja Beisiegel1,4,*, Alexander Darr1, Michael L. Zettler1, René Friedland2, Ulf Gräwe3, Mayya Gogina1

1Department of Biological Oceanography, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, 18119 Rostock, Germany
2Unit Coastal Sea: Management and Planning, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, 18119 Rostock, Germany
3Department of Physical Oceanography, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, 18119 Rostock, Germany
4Present address: BLANO-Geschäftsstelle Meeresschutz, 20539 Hamburg, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Knowledge of spatial patterns in subtidal hard substrate assemblages is necessary for the development of effective marine management strategies. However, patterns are intrinsically scale-dependent, and little is known about the relative importance of vertical and horizontal position changes across scales. In the southwestern Baltic Sea, major physicochemical attributes (e.g. salinity, temperature, nutrients) change sharply across different spatial scales. We tested the hypothesis that biological variation generally increases with increasing scales and that horizontal (along-shore) variability becomes at least comparable in magnitude to vertical variation at large scales. An imaging approach was chosen to span a distance of 200 km within which 3 scales (small: a few km; meso: 10s of km; large: 100s of km) along the vertical and horizontal axes were examined and compared. In total, 1800 images were analyzed for species composition and cover. Most biological variability was detected across the large scale, along the horizontal salinity gradient. Species richness decreased with decreasing salinity, and assemblage composition changed significantly. At the meso scale, vertical variation along the bathymetric gradient (10-40 m) appeared to be the dominant pattern. The least variation occurred at the small scale. Vertical zonation and small-scale variation were stronger at higher salinities. The study highlighted horizontal gradients as potential drivers for spatial variability in this system. The multi-scale approach used here was particularly useful for detecting the interactive effects between scales and gaining insights applicable to large-scale management.


KEY WORDS: Spatial scale · Distribution patterns · Hard substrate assemblages · Spatial variability · Vertical zonation · Environmental gradients · Seafloor imaging · Baltic Sea


Full text in pdf format
Supplementary material 
Cite this article as: Beisiegel K, Darr A, Zettler ML, Friedland R, Gräwe U, Gogina M (2020) Spatial variability in subtidal hard substrate assemblages across horizontal and vertical gradients: a multi-scale approach using seafloor imaging. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 633:23-36. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13168

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
Facebook - - linkedIn