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Spatial variation of the intertidal sediments and macrozoo-benthic assemblages along Eighty-mile Beach, north-western Australia
Honkoop, P.J.C.; Pearson, G.B.; Lavaleye, M.S.S.; Piersma, T. (2006). Spatial variation of the intertidal sediments and macrozoo-benthic assemblages along Eighty-mile Beach, north-western Australia. J. Sea Res. 55(4): 278-291
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Beach morphology; Ecological zonation; Grain size; Sediments; Spatial variations; Zoobenthos; ISW, Australia, North west [Marine Regions]; ISW, Australia, Western Australia, Eighty Mile Beach; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Honkoop, P.J.C.
  • Pearson, G.B.
  • Lavaleye, M.S.S.
  • Piersma, T.

Abstract
    The extensive intertidal flats along Eighty-mile Beach in North-western Australia appear to be monotonous and homogeneous and seem ideally suited to study tidal zonation in macrozoo-benthic communities and their possible correlates with characteristics of the sediment. In October 1999, we sampled benthic invertebrates and sediments at a total of 895 sampling stations distributed over six different locations, each location separated by 15 km of unsampled foreshore along Eighty-mile Beach. To test for the presence or absence of patterns of tidal zonation (distinct height-related zones of specific sediment grain sizes or zoobenthic taxonomic groups) or patchiness (distinct patches of specific sediment grain sizes or zoobenthic taxonomic groups not related to tidal height) each location was divided into three along-shore sections and each section (transect) was examined at two or three tidal heights. Zonation was observed for sediment grain sizes. Sediments were coarser at the highest intertidal level and finer towards the low water line. Benthic assemblages also differed among tidal heights, but in terms of species-composition the differences were not consistent among the locations. Each location supported a unique collection of benthic invertebrates. Therefore the hypothesis of the presence of distinct zones of specific species or zoobenthic taxonomic groups was rejected; the presence of benthic patches was confirmed. The distribution of sediments and the composition of benthic assemblages were surprisingly poorly correlated compared to those reported in 12 previous quantitative studies around the world. One possible explanation might be that super-cyclone Vance, which hit the study-area only six months before this study, contributed to this poor correlation. Alternatively, the poor correlation may indicate that biotic interactions are more important than the assumed abiotic structuring.

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