|Matching spatial distributions of the sea star Echinaster sepositus and crustose coralline algae in shallow rocky Mediterranean communities|Villamor, A.; Becerro, M.A. (2010). Matching spatial distributions of the sea star Echinaster sepositus and crustose coralline algae in shallow rocky Mediterranean communities. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 157(10): 2241-2251. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-010-1489-2
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
|Authors|| || Top |
- Villamor, A.
- Becerro, M.A.
Understanding why a species is present in a particular location and the consequences of its presence is complex but necessary to identify the mechanisms that generate and maintain ecological diversity. The common sea star Echinaster sepositus can be either very abundant or non-existing in nearby localities of the western Mediterranean. Yet, the factors that shape its distribution and the impact of the sea star on natural communities remain uninvestigated. Here, we quantified multiple biotic and abiotic factors that may affect the distribution of E. sepositus and tested whether this sea star can shape the organization of the community it inhabits. Our results showed that the distribution of this sea star was highly contagious and positively correlated with the abundance and distribution of crustose coralline algae from tens of meters to tens of kilometers. Despite significant differences in community composition between localities with high or low abundance of the sea star, experimental addition of E. sepositus to natural communities failed to shift the composition of the algal community in 4 months. Overall, our results suggest that within habitat variability in the abundance of crustose coralline algae may explain the abundance of E. sepositus at multiple geographic scales, emphasizing the need to investigate small-scale processes at larger geographic scales.