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Environmental factors structuring polychaete communities in shallow rocky habitats: Role of physical stress versus habitat complexity
Serrano, A.; Preciado, I. (2007). Environmental factors structuring polychaete communities in shallow rocky habitats: Role of physical stress versus habitat complexity. Helgol. Mar. Res. 61(1): 17-29. dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10152-006-0050-7
In: Helgoland Marine Research. Springer: Berlin; Heidelberg. ISSN 1438-387X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Biological stress; Habitat types; Rocky environments; Shallow water; Polychaeta [WoRMS]; ANE, Cantabrian Sea; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Serrano, A.
  • Preciado, I.

Abstract
    Polychaetes inhabiting 12 different hard bottom habitats were studied. A total of 157 species belonging to 32 families were identified. Differences among habitats in polychaete density, species richness, and diversity were analysed, as well as the relationships between these ecological indices and depth range, slope and in-bay/out-bay gradient. A high faunal homogeneity was found: all biotopes were dominated by a low number of eurytopic species. Intertidal habitats and subtidal ones with scarce algal cover were typified by vagile polychaetes (syllids, nereids), while sessile polychaetes (serpulids, sabellids) appeared typically among subtidal large macrophytes, habitats with a calcareous substrate and shaded habitats. Multivariate analyses showed that habitat complexity, determined by physical disturbance, is the main structuring factor for polychaete populations. Biotopes with the highest structural complexity displayed a high number of companion species increasing ecological indices and denoting a well-structured habitat. On the other hand, communities such as those in the upper intertidal, mainly controlled by physical environmental variables, showed a poorer polychaete fauna, dominated by ubiquitous species and a few well-adapted specialists.

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