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Effects of simulated human exploitation of a key grazer, Patella vulgata, on rocky shore assemblages

Effects of simulated human exploitation of a key grazer, Patella vulgata, on rocky shore assemblages
Effects of simulated human exploitation of a key grazer, Patella vulgata, on rocky shore assemblages
Exploitation of key consumers can have major consequences for community and ecosystem functioning. Limpets are key grazers exploited in regions such as Macaronesia, southern Africa, Chile and California. Here we describe a field experiment designed to simulate human exploitation of British limpets that are unexploited and used as model populations. Our aim was to evaluate the effects of size-selective harvesting on the composition of the rocky shore community of non-target species. Limpet populations were subjected to simulated exploitation of large size classes for 18 mo at 2 locations in the southwest of England, by systematic removal at 2 different intensities: low and high exploitation compared with unexploited plots. The exploitation of limpets led to establishment of Fucus spp. to differing degrees at each location, but while variation in percentage cover of Fucus spp. decreased over the course of the experiment in unmanipulated control plots, it increased in plots with either low or high exploitation. Multivariate analyses showed that communities at the 2 locations responded differently to the same intensity of exploitation: unmanipulated controls were similar to low-exploitation treatments at Constantine, while at Trevone low-exploitation treatments were similar to high-exploitation treatments. This was mainly due to increases in percentage cover of F. vesiculosus var. evesiculosus with exploitation, indicating that site-specific differences in assemblage structure and the size structure of the harvested populations will determine its assemblage-level responses. Therefore, reductions in density of grazers may have divergent consequences for different rocky shore communities.
Assemblage structure, Exploitation, Grazers, Key species, Rocky shore
163-176
Borges, C.D.G.
5c6c1eb0-e261-40cb-a647-adc2b70008d0
Hawkins, S.J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa
Doncaster, C.P.
0eff2f42-fa0a-4e35-b6ac-475ad3482047
Crowe, T.P.
1a0a3dda-6ec8-400c-8f21-c6976d9a9c5b
Borges, C.D.G.
5c6c1eb0-e261-40cb-a647-adc2b70008d0
Hawkins, S.J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa
Doncaster, C.P.
0eff2f42-fa0a-4e35-b6ac-475ad3482047
Crowe, T.P.
1a0a3dda-6ec8-400c-8f21-c6976d9a9c5b

Borges, C.D.G., Hawkins, S.J., Doncaster, C.P. and Crowe, T.P. (2015) Effects of simulated human exploitation of a key grazer, Patella vulgata, on rocky shore assemblages. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 533, 163-176. (doi:10.3354/meps11356).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Exploitation of key consumers can have major consequences for community and ecosystem functioning. Limpets are key grazers exploited in regions such as Macaronesia, southern Africa, Chile and California. Here we describe a field experiment designed to simulate human exploitation of British limpets that are unexploited and used as model populations. Our aim was to evaluate the effects of size-selective harvesting on the composition of the rocky shore community of non-target species. Limpet populations were subjected to simulated exploitation of large size classes for 18 mo at 2 locations in the southwest of England, by systematic removal at 2 different intensities: low and high exploitation compared with unexploited plots. The exploitation of limpets led to establishment of Fucus spp. to differing degrees at each location, but while variation in percentage cover of Fucus spp. decreased over the course of the experiment in unmanipulated control plots, it increased in plots with either low or high exploitation. Multivariate analyses showed that communities at the 2 locations responded differently to the same intensity of exploitation: unmanipulated controls were similar to low-exploitation treatments at Constantine, while at Trevone low-exploitation treatments were similar to high-exploitation treatments. This was mainly due to increases in percentage cover of F. vesiculosus var. evesiculosus with exploitation, indicating that site-specific differences in assemblage structure and the size structure of the harvested populations will determine its assemblage-level responses. Therefore, reductions in density of grazers may have divergent consequences for different rocky shore communities.

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More information

Published date: 6 August 2015
Keywords: Assemblage structure, Exploitation, Grazers, Key species, Rocky shore
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science, Centre for Biological Sciences

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 381810
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/381810
PURE UUID: 60ea1ebc-d9a1-4a2b-aeb5-f91e7bce58c3
ORCID for C.P. Doncaster: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9406-0693

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 22 Sep 2015 10:46
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 13:04

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Contributors

Author: C.D.G. Borges
Author: S.J. Hawkins
Author: C.P. Doncaster ORCID iD
Author: T.P. Crowe

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