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Mudflat surface morphology as a structuring agent of algae and associated macroepifauna communities: a case study in the Ria Formosa
Aníbal, J.; Rocha, C.; Sprung, M. (2007). Mudflat surface morphology as a structuring agent of algae and associated macroepifauna communities: a case study in the Ria Formosa. J. Sea Res. 57(1): 36-46.
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Algae; Benthos; Coastal morphology; Community composition; Geomorphology; Mud flats; ANE, Portugal, Ria de Formosa [Marine Regions]; Marine

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  • Aníbal, J.
  • Rocha, C.
  • Sprung, M.

    Although mudflats seem relatively planar, closer inspection reveals a succession of meso-topographical features, including consecutive convex and concave meso- and micro-topographical features. The objective of this study was to determine the influence of meso-scale surface sediment morphology on the dynamics of the macroalgae Ulvales (Chlorophyta) and associated macroepifauna in the Ria Formosa tidal lagoon (southern coast of Portugal). Four sites in the Ria Formosa were sampled monthly. Two were located on convex sections (mounds) of the mudflat and the other two on concave sections (depressions). Macroalgae and related macroepifauna were sampled at each station. Biomass was quantified by determination of the ash-free dry weight (AFDW). Data were analysed using the software package 'PRIMER' (Plymouth Routines In Multivariate Ecological Research). Results show a clear distinction between convex and concave areas. In convex sections, Enteromorpha dominated, to the point of being the only algal species present during part of the year. Conversely, biomass and dynamics of Enteromorpha and Ulva were almost the same in concave sections. The associated macroepifauna was also different in protruding or depressed sections of the mudflat. In the convex areas, the macroepifauna population showed less diversity and was dominated by the snail Hydrobia ulvae. In concave areas, the species diversity was larger, but dominated in terms of biomass by the amphipod Melita palmata and the gastropod Nassarius pfeifferi. Results of the study indicate that the benthic communities associated with concave or convex features were different. No relevant differences in texture and sediment physico-chemical characteristics were found between convex and concave sections. The inference is that the morphological nature of the bottom in tidal mudflats can act as a structuring agent of benthic communities.

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