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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 648:19-38 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13419

Patterns in diversity and composition of the microbenthos of subarctic intertidal beaches with different morphodynamics

Andrey I. Azovsky1,2,*, Yuri A. Mazei1,3, Maria A. Saburova4, Philip V. Sapozhnikov2

1Department of General Ecology & Hydrobiology, M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow 119234, Russia
2P. P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS, Moscow 117997, Russia
3A. N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS, Moscow 119071, Russia
4Environment and Life Sciences Research Center, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, PO Box 1638, Salmiya 22017, Kuwait
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Diversity and composition of benthic diatom algae and ciliates were studied at several beaches along the White and Barents seas: from highly exposed, reflective beaches with coarse-grained sands to sheltered, dissipative silty-sandy flats. For diatoms, the epipelic to epipsammic species abundance ratio was significantly correlated with the beach index and mean particle size, while neither α-diversity measures nor mean cell length were related to beach properties. In contrast, most of the characteristics of ciliate assemblages (diversity, total abundance and biomass, mean individual weight and percentage of karyorelictids) demonstrated a strong correlation to beach properties, remaining low at exposed beaches but increasing sharply in more sheltered conditions. β-diversity did not correlate with beach properties for either diatoms or ciliates. We suggest that wave action and sediment properties are the main drivers controlling the diversity and composition of the intertidal microbenthos. Diatoms and ciliates, however, demonstrated divergent response to these factors. Epipelic and epipsammic diatoms exhibited 2 different strategies to adapt to their environments and therefore were complementarily distributed along the environmental gradient and compensated for each other in diversity. Most ciliates demonstrated a similar mode of habitat selection but differed in their degree of tolerance. Euryporal (including mesoporal) species were relatively tolerant to wave action and therefore occurred under a wide range of beach conditions, though their abundance and diversity were highest in fine, relatively stable sediments on sheltered beaches, whereas the specific interstitial (i.e. genuine microporal) species were mostly restricted to only these habitats.


KEY WORDS: Diatom algae · Ciliates · Diversity · Beach properties · Sediment characteristics


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Cite this article as: Azovsky AI, Mazei YA, Saburova MA, Sapozhnikov PV (2020) Patterns in diversity and composition of the microbenthos of subarctic intertidal beaches with different morphodynamics. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 648:19-38. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13419

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