The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Interactive effects of losing key grazers and ecosystem engineers vary with environmental context

Interactive effects of losing key grazers and ecosystem engineers vary with environmental context
Interactive effects of losing key grazers and ecosystem engineers vary with environmental context
Loss of biodiversity may cause significant changes to ecosystem structure and functioning. Evidence from long-term in situ removal experiments is rare but important in determining the effects of biodiversity loss against a background of environmental variation. Limpets and mussels are thought to be important in controlling community structure on wave-exposed shores in the UK: limpets as key grazers, mussels as ecosystem engineers. A long-term factorial removal experiment revealed interactive effects that varied between 2 shores in SW England. At one site (Harlyn), removing limpets caused a significant shift in community structure, but where limpets were lost, the presence or absence of mussels made little difference. Where limpets were present, however, the removal of mussels changed the structure and variability of the community. At the other site (Polzeath), the loss of mussels caused significant changes in community structure, and limpets played a less important role. At Harlyn, fucoid algae were abundant throughout the year. There were fewer algae at Polzeath, and cover was dominated by the summer bloom of ephemerals. At Harlyn, the limpets played a major role in controlling algae, but their effects were mediated by the presence of mussels. Other grazers were not able to fulfil their role. At Polzeath, mussels were far more important, and ephemeral algae grew on them regardless of the presence or loss of limpets. These findings emphasise the need to assess spatial and temporal variation in the effects of biodiversity loss and the importance of interactive effects of loss of multiple species from different functional groups.
Biodiversity, Functional groups, Spatial variation, Long term, Removal experiment, Limpets, Mussels, Interactive effects
223-234
Crowe, Tasmin P.
97ade6ef-a368-49bf-a355-28572b14dae2
Frost, Natalie J.
a5d28e69-5fd9-4ca1-87b5-824b98f1afd1
Hawkins, Stephen J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa
Crowe, Tasmin P.
97ade6ef-a368-49bf-a355-28572b14dae2
Frost, Natalie J.
a5d28e69-5fd9-4ca1-87b5-824b98f1afd1
Hawkins, Stephen J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa

Crowe, Tasmin P., Frost, Natalie J. and Hawkins, Stephen J. (2011) Interactive effects of losing key grazers and ecosystem engineers vary with environmental context. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 430, 223-234. (doi:10.3354/meps09023).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Loss of biodiversity may cause significant changes to ecosystem structure and functioning. Evidence from long-term in situ removal experiments is rare but important in determining the effects of biodiversity loss against a background of environmental variation. Limpets and mussels are thought to be important in controlling community structure on wave-exposed shores in the UK: limpets as key grazers, mussels as ecosystem engineers. A long-term factorial removal experiment revealed interactive effects that varied between 2 shores in SW England. At one site (Harlyn), removing limpets caused a significant shift in community structure, but where limpets were lost, the presence or absence of mussels made little difference. Where limpets were present, however, the removal of mussels changed the structure and variability of the community. At the other site (Polzeath), the loss of mussels caused significant changes in community structure, and limpets played a less important role. At Harlyn, fucoid algae were abundant throughout the year. There were fewer algae at Polzeath, and cover was dominated by the summer bloom of ephemerals. At Harlyn, the limpets played a major role in controlling algae, but their effects were mediated by the presence of mussels. Other grazers were not able to fulfil their role. At Polzeath, mussels were far more important, and ephemeral algae grew on them regardless of the presence or loss of limpets. These findings emphasise the need to assess spatial and temporal variation in the effects of biodiversity loss and the importance of interactive effects of loss of multiple species from different functional groups.

Text
Crowe_etal_2011_MEPS.pdf - Version of Record
Download (409kB)

More information

Published date: 2011
Keywords: Biodiversity, Functional groups, Spatial variation, Long term, Removal experiment, Limpets, Mussels, Interactive effects
Organisations: Ocean Biochemistry & Ecosystems, Centre for Biological Sciences

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 337015
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/337015
PURE UUID: f7aa0082-cd1a-48a1-9437-c78493e34161

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 13 Apr 2012 15:26
Last modified: 19 Jul 2019 22:03

Export record

Altmetrics

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×