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The effects of patch size and substrate isolation on colonization modes and rates in an intertidal sediment
Smith, C.R.; Brumsickle, S.J. (1989). The effects of patch size and substrate isolation on colonization modes and rates in an intertidal sediment. Limnol. Oceanogr. 34(7): 1263-1277
In: Limnology and Oceanography. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography: Waco, Tex., etc.. ISSN 0024-3590, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Colonization; Intertidal environment; Patchiness; ANW, USA, Massachusetts [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Smith, C.R.
  • Brumsickle, S.J.

Abstract
    The dynamics of soft-bottom disturbance mosaics may be strongly influenced by life stages of colonists, disturbance size, and patch isolation. We assessed the effects of postlarval immigration, patch size, and vertical isolation on colonization following small-scale disturbance in a mudflat in Bamstabie Harbor, Massachusetts. Defaunated sediment plugs of two sizes (50 and 1,750 cm² in plan area) and two levels of isolation (flush with the seafloor and elevated 5 cm) were implanted in the flat and sampled after 4-41 d. Postlarval immigration proved a major colonization mode for both treatment sizes. Colonization rates and successional patterns varied markedly between patch sizes, however. Faunal abundance and species number increased more rapidly, and species proportions differed, in smaller treatments primarily because the contribution of postlarval immigration varied inversely with patch size. Colonization in elevated plugs bore little resemblance to that in flush treatments, with macrofauna accumulating in raised plugs at markedly lower rates. We conclude that postlarval immigration may be a major mode of colonization at our site and perhaps in soft bottoms generally, following small-scale disturbance, that patch size must be considered in models of benthic colonization and succession, and that interpreting results from colonization studies with raised substrata may be problematic.

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