A continental scale evaluation of the role of limpet grazing on rocky shores

Coleman, R.A., Underwood, A.J., Benedetti-Cecchi, L.F., Aberg, P., Arenas, F., Arrontes, J., Castro, J., Hartnoll, R.G., Jenkins, S.R., Paula, J., Della Santina, P. and Hawkins, S.J. (2006) A continental scale evaluation of the role of limpet grazing on rocky shores. Oecologia, 147, (3), 556-564. (doi:10.1007/s00442-005-0296-9).


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It is critical for our knowledge of biodiversity and ecosystem processes to understand how individual species contribute to ecosystem processes and how these contributions vary in space and time. We used a manipulative field experiment in five locations over 17 degrees of latitude [from southern Portugal to the Isle of Man (British Isles)] to determine the relative response of rocky intertidal algal assemblages released from control by the grazing of limpets. Response ratios showed that when limpets were removed there was a trend of effects from north to south. In the north, grazing had a strong effect on algal assemblages, but removing grazers reduced spatial variability in assemblages. In the south, the effect of limpet grazing was far weaker and removal of grazers had a much reduced impact on spatial variability. Here we show a clear trophic control of an ecosystem in that grazing by limpets not only determines macroalgal abundance overall but also modifies ecosystem stability via variability in cover of algae.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1007/s00442-005-0296-9
ISSNs: 0029-8549 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: algae, herbivory, biodiversity, meta-analysis, community
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Biological Sciences
University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Ocean & Earth Science (SOC/SOES)
ePrint ID: 56845
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
March 2006Published
14 March 2005Submitted
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:37
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/56845

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