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Effects of point-source nutrient addition and mussel removal on epibiotic assemblages in Perumytilus purpuratus beds
Valdivia, N.; Thiel, M. (2006). Effects of point-source nutrient addition and mussel removal on epibiotic assemblages in Perumytilus purpuratus beds. J. Sea Res. 56(4): 271-283. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2006.06.003
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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Keywords
    Ecosystem disturbance; Epibenthos; Nutrients (mineral); Rocky shores; Species diversity; Perumytilus purpuratus (Lamarck, 1819) [WoRMS]; PSW, Chile, Totoralillo Bay; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Valdivia, N.
  • Thiel, M., correspondent

Abstract
    The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of point-source nutrient addition and mussel removal on species diversity of the epibenthic assemblage of the purple mussel Perumytilus purpuratus. It was hypothesised that mussels cushion the effects of disturbance on the associated organisms and thereby favour species diversity in patches with added nutrients. In order to test this hypothesis, a two-factorial field experiment was conducted at an exposed rocky shore of northern-central Chile in which nutrient addition and mussel removal were manipulated with two levels. Experimental units consisted of 100-cm² mussel plots that were sampled after two months of experimental manipulations. Local nutrient addition was done with coated slow-release fertilisers. Mussel removal treatments consisted in three destructive events applied throughout the experimental phase, and each event consisted in the removal of 20% of the mussel biomass from each plot. While point-source nutrient addition had only minor effects on diversity, mussel removal had significant and negative effects on faunal species richness and the abundance of suspension-feeders and sessile organisms. The abundance of predators/scavengers significantly decreased with mussel removal in the presence of nutrient addition. Grazers and mobile organisms were very abundant in the mussel assemblage but their abundance remained unaffected by treatments. Finally, species richness and total abundance of algae were also not affected by the treatments. Although the duration of our experiment was relatively short, we suggest that the effects of local nutrient addition are of minor importance at the study site in comparison to the effects of mussel removal. Based on our results and previous studies conducted in soft-bottom systems, we suggest that physical and biological stress acting on exposed hard-bottom communities overshadows the potential effects of local nutrient addition.

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