Boaventura, Diana, Cancela da Fonseca, Luis and Hawkins, Stephen J.
Analysis of competitive interactions between the limpets Patella depressa Pennant and Patella vulgata L. on the northern coast of Portugal
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 271, (2), . (doi:10.1016/S0022-0981(02)00044-8).
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Inter- and intraspecific competitive interactions among the species Patella depressa Pennant and P vulgata L. were analysed on the northern coast of Portugal, where both species co-occur in similar proportions. Increased (x 2, x 4), normal and decreased (x 1/2 intraspecific only) densities of limpets were used to test the effects of competition on the growth and mortality of the limpets, and competitive interactions between the different species. Fenced plots of 25 x 25 cm enclosing marked limpets at various densities were set up at a mid tidal level on the shore. Twelve treatments with three replicates of different combinations of densities and species were established. Mortality was recorded every 15 days and length was measured monthly during the 5 months of the experiment. At the end of the experiment, limpets were collected for biometry, sex determination and gonad staging. Both species of grazing molluscs showed increased mortality and reduced size and weight in increased density treatments. Limpets in decreased density treatments showed lower mortality and higher size. There were no significant differences between the effect of P. vulgata on R depressa and the effect of P. depressa on P. vulgata on mortality and length. There were, however, decreases in weight due to intraspecific effects for both species. For P. vulgata, interspecific effects were much less than intraspecific effects and for P. depressa, the interspecific effects depended on density. The analysis of the gonad stage at the end of the experiment showed that the lower stages of development were most prevalent at increased densities and the occurrence of neuter individuals only in increased densities single species plots corroborated the evidence of a stronger intraspecific interaction. The availability of food was indirectly assessed by determination of chlorophyll concentration with spectrophotometric analysis of rock chips. Microalgal food assessment in this experiment, however, did not show any clear trends. The results were compared with previous studies of competition in grazing molluscs and discussed in relation to the limits of distribution of P vulgata on the Portuguese coast.
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