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Spatial variation in the macrobenthic assemblages of intertidal seagrass along the long axis of an estuary
Barnes, R.S.K.; Ellwood, M.D.F. (2012). Spatial variation in the macrobenthic assemblages of intertidal seagrass along the long axis of an estuary. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 112: 173-182. hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.ecss.2012.07.013
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714; e-ISSN 1096-0015, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    salinity; seagrass meadow; biodiversity; estuary; benthos; intertidal

Authors  Top 
  • Barnes, R.S.K.
  • Ellwood, M.D.F.

Abstract
    Invertebrate macrofaunal biodiversity within intertidal seagrass meadows was investigated over a salinity gradient of <5–35 in the Knysna estuarine system (Garden Route National Park, South Africa). Rather than the classic gradual decline in species richness with distance from the mouth there were zones of considerable faunal stability separated by relatively sharp discontinuities. At the point upstream at which salinity regularly falls below 30, the rich, diverse and highly spatially variable downstream faunal assemblage changed to a less rich, less diverse and more uniform one that dominated the upstream stretch without any further upstream reduction in richness. Nevertheless, without loss of overall richness, assemblage composition changed, again rapidly, in the upper region of the upstream stretch to a zone dominated by the microgastropod Hydrobia, which otherwise occurs in the Knysna system only in highly sheltered regions of the downstream stretch where it is also dominant. The upstream faunal assemblage was a subset of that in the marine-influenced downstream region not a different replacing one. Position along the estuarine gradient accounted for 29% of total assemblage variation. Overall faunal abundance declined with distance upstream until the Hydrobia zone where it rose sharply, but there was no evidence of increase in density of those species remaining on putative release from competition.

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