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Methods for ecological monitoring: Biological interactions in a rocky subtidal community
Christie, H. (1980). Methods for ecological monitoring: Biological interactions in a rocky subtidal community. Helgol. Meeresunters. 33(1-4): 473-483.
In: Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen. Biologische Anstalt Helgoland: Hamburg. ISSN 0174-3597, more
Also appears in:
Kinne, O.; Bulnheim, H.-P. (Ed.) (1980). Protection of life in the sea: 14th European Marine Biology Symposium, 23-29 September 1979, Helgoland. Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen, 33(1-4). Biologische Anstalt Helgoland: Hamburg. 772 pp., more
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  • Christie, H.

    Whilst both abiotic and biotic factors affect communities, biological interactions are widely believed to be the most important factors structuring subtidal communities. Among the potential biological interactions a few "key " species may regulate species fluctuations. A rocky subtidal community in the Oslofjord (Norway) has been investigated using stereophotography, field experiments and manipulations (settlement plates, scraping, cages). The purpose was to develop a method for biological monitoring of chronic pollution effects. Around 60 species were identified in the community. The most permanent occupants were Lithothamnion sp. (25-30% cover) and Pomatoceros triqueter (ca. 20% cover). The most important fluctuation was induced by the rapid growth of the hydroid Laomedea longissima to a 100% cover in June and its rapid disappearance. Free space covered more than 30% except in the period with large hydroid occurrence. The most active settlement period was in summer and autumn. The most important predators observed were Coryphella sp., Asterias rubens and Pasmmechinus miliaris. Coryphella grazed upon the hydroids and Asterias and Psammechinus foraged on settled organisms which resulted in an increase of free space. Predation and recruitment in that order are probably the two most important factors structuring the studied community. The "key " species were therefore the three predators. A monitoring programme should concentrate on these predators and their influence on the success of recruitment and the abundance of hydroids and free space, since these species control the natural fluctuations in the studied community. The stereophotographic method combined with simple settlement-plate experiments seems suitable for such a monitoring programme.

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