|Early colonization of shallow subtidal boulders in two habitats|In: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. Elsevier: New York. ISSN 0022-0981, more
Boulders; Colonization; Intertidal habitat; Invertebrate assemblage; Restoration
Intertidal and shallow subtidal boulder fields are relatively uncommon along the coast of New South Wales, Australia. Nevertheless, they provide habitat for a diverse suite of species, many of which are seldom found in other habitats. The types and abundances of animals found on or under boulders can be influenced by features of the boulders themselves, or by features of the substratum on which a boulder lies. Boulders can be colonized by larvae, or by adult or juvenile animals drifting in the water column or crawling up from the substratum. This experiment investigated the effect of an algal or sandy substratum on early stages of colonization of new boulders in two boulder fields by a suite of invertebrates, including gastropods, bivalves, chitons, polychaetes and insect larvae. Replicate times of three different periods (5, 18 and 38 days) tested for consistency of patterns of colonization at different times. Although the experiment was completed in a single season (within 2 months), there was considerable variation in patterns of abundances and diversity between replicate times. Thus, for each time in each period of a particular length, a different assemblage developed on the algal or sandy substratum in each boulder field. Despite this temporal variation, a few taxa showed some consistency of colonization among habitats, although most showed unpredictable patterns. The implications of these patterns of colonization for the creation or restoration of new intertidal and shallow subtidal boulder fields are discussed.