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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Foundation species loss in surfgrass (left) and mussel (right) tidepools immediately alters multiple ecosystem functions within Oregon temperate tidepool communities

Photo: Jenn Fields and Miranda Gilhuys

Fields JB, Silbiger NJ

Foundation species loss alters multiple ecosystem functions within temperate tidepool communities

Rocky intertidal foundation species that help maintain habitat and ecosystem functioning are declining due to anthropogenic impacts. Through natural tide pool manipulations and causal statistical frameworks, Fields and Silbiger found that intertidal surfgrass and mussel loss directly increases microalgae cover, light, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH, and indirectly alters ecosystem metabolism (net ecosystem production and calcification) via changes in community, physical, and biogeochemical processes. This research connects foundational studies of disturbance dynamics and ecological succession with contemporary studies focused on the influence of community structure on the physical, biogeochemical, and ecosystem metabolism landscape of tide pools. Further, the results highlight that foundation species loss leads to immediate changes in ecosystem functioning through shifts in community structure and the physical environment.


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