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Species effects on ecosystem processes are modified by faunal responses to habitat composition

Species effects on ecosystem processes are modified by faunal responses to habitat composition
Species effects on ecosystem processes are modified by faunal responses to habitat composition
Heterogeneity is a well-recognized feature of natural environments, and the spatial distribution and movement of individual species is primarily driven by resource requirements. In laboratory experiments designed to explore how different species drive ecosystem processes, such as nutrient release, habitat heterogeneity is often seen as something which must be rigorously controlled for. Most small experimental systems are therefore spatially homogeneous, and the link between environmental heterogeneity and its effects on the redistribution of individuals and species, and on ecosystem processes, has not been fully explored. In this paper, we used a mesocosm system to investigate the relationship between habitat composition, species movement and sediment nutrient release for each of four functionally contrasting species of marine benthic invertebrate macrofauna. For each species, various habitat configurations were generated by selectively enriching patches of sediment with macroalgae, a natural source of spatial variability in intertidal mudflats. We found that the direction and extent of faunal movement between patches differs with species identity, density and habitat composition. Combinations of these factors lead to concomitant changes in nutrient release, such that habitat composition effects are modified by species identity (in the case of NH4–N) and by species density (in the case of PO4–P). It is clear that failure to accommodate natural patterns of spatial heterogeneity in such studies may result in an incomplete understanding of system behaviour. This will be particularly important for future experiments designed to explore the effects of species richness on ecosystem processes, where the complex interactions reported here for single species may be compounded when species are brought together in multi-species combinations.
0029-8549
Bulling, Mark T.
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Solan, Martin
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Dyson, Kirstie E.
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Hernandez-Milian, Gema
698dee0f-b45b-441a-a53e-2bb61e126247
Luque, Patricia
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Pierce, Graham J.
736335ea-8cb4-4c80-8881-1ed39335cfde
Raffaelli, Dave
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Paterson, David M.
cb3a1995-cd31-46b5-970c-71d0f571d63b
White, Piran C. L.
f5623b1d-deab-4e08-8f44-ca733a43d569
Bulling, Mark T.
0a9186c7-5457-46f4-8c83-1b26a571e402
Solan, Martin
c28b294a-1db6-4677-8eab-bd8d6221fecf
Dyson, Kirstie E.
d8aae459-e72a-4051-b63f-3e64d91147b9
Hernandez-Milian, Gema
698dee0f-b45b-441a-a53e-2bb61e126247
Luque, Patricia
93c2c62d-1d53-41d2-8972-cd89e9716c86
Pierce, Graham J.
736335ea-8cb4-4c80-8881-1ed39335cfde
Raffaelli, Dave
b6fc5f11-fb9a-420a-bcd3-7d5d7c6f8260
Paterson, David M.
cb3a1995-cd31-46b5-970c-71d0f571d63b
White, Piran C. L.
f5623b1d-deab-4e08-8f44-ca733a43d569

Bulling, Mark T., Solan, Martin, Dyson, Kirstie E., Hernandez-Milian, Gema, Luque, Patricia, Pierce, Graham J., Raffaelli, Dave, Paterson, David M. and White, Piran C. L. (2008) Species effects on ecosystem processes are modified by faunal responses to habitat composition. Oecologia. (doi:10.1007/s00442-008-1160-5).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Heterogeneity is a well-recognized feature of natural environments, and the spatial distribution and movement of individual species is primarily driven by resource requirements. In laboratory experiments designed to explore how different species drive ecosystem processes, such as nutrient release, habitat heterogeneity is often seen as something which must be rigorously controlled for. Most small experimental systems are therefore spatially homogeneous, and the link between environmental heterogeneity and its effects on the redistribution of individuals and species, and on ecosystem processes, has not been fully explored. In this paper, we used a mesocosm system to investigate the relationship between habitat composition, species movement and sediment nutrient release for each of four functionally contrasting species of marine benthic invertebrate macrofauna. For each species, various habitat configurations were generated by selectively enriching patches of sediment with macroalgae, a natural source of spatial variability in intertidal mudflats. We found that the direction and extent of faunal movement between patches differs with species identity, density and habitat composition. Combinations of these factors lead to concomitant changes in nutrient release, such that habitat composition effects are modified by species identity (in the case of NH4–N) and by species density (in the case of PO4–P). It is clear that failure to accommodate natural patterns of spatial heterogeneity in such studies may result in an incomplete understanding of system behaviour. This will be particularly important for future experiments designed to explore the effects of species richness on ecosystem processes, where the complex interactions reported here for single species may be compounded when species are brought together in multi-species combinations.

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Accepted/In Press date: 12 September 2008
Published date: 3 October 2008

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 455742
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/455742
ISSN: 0029-8549
PURE UUID: 2fa2ea37-945c-4f76-a2c1-3b5998eb171a
ORCID for Martin Solan: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9924-5574

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Date deposited: 31 Mar 2022 16:51
Last modified: 23 Jul 2022 01:59

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Contributors

Author: Mark T. Bulling
Author: Martin Solan ORCID iD
Author: Kirstie E. Dyson
Author: Gema Hernandez-Milian
Author: Patricia Luque
Author: Graham J. Pierce
Author: Dave Raffaelli
Author: David M. Paterson
Author: Piran C. L. White

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