Vertical zonation is the main distribution pattern of littoral assemblages on rocky shores at a regional scale

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Title: Vertical zonation is the main distribution pattern of littoral assemblages on rocky shores at a regional scale
Authors: Chappuis, Eglantine | Terradas, Marc | Cefalì, Maria Elena | Mariani, Simone | Ballesteros, Enric
Research Group/s: Fitopatología
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Ciencias del Mar y Biología Aplicada
Keywords: Algae | Benthic assemblages | Mediterranean | Zonation patterns | Littoral belts | Horizontal variation
Knowledge Area: Botánica
Issue Date: 20-Jun-2014
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 2014, 147: 113-122. doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2014.05.031
Abstract: Vertical variation in the distribution of rocky shore assemblages is greater than horizontal variation, as shown by univariate and multivariate analysis performed with data obtained along 1000 km of shoreline and covering from the upper supralittoral to the upper infralittoral zone (−1 m). Consequently, vertical littoral zonation is a consistent pattern at a regional scale within the same biogeographical zone. While their distribution varies at the same shore height, marine species and assemblages from rocky shores show a specific vertical sequence known as zonation. A key question in ecology is how consistent is zonation along large spatial scales. The aim of this study is to show distribution patterns of littoral assemblages at a regional scale and to identify the most relevant abiotic factors associated to such patterns. The study is based on a detailed and extensive survey at a regional scale on a tideless rocky shore. Benthic macroflora and macrofauna of 750 relevés were described along the vertical axis of 143 transects distributed across the shoreline of Catalonia (NW Mediterranean). The Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) first axis is highly related to the height on the shore: species, relevés, and assemblages grade from lower to upper height (infralittoral to supralittoral). As observed in nature, different assemblages co-occur at the same height at different sites, which is shown along DCA second axis. The abiotic variables that best explain the assemblage distribution patterns are: height (75% of the model inertia), longitude (14.6%), latitude (7.2%) and transect slope (2.9%). The Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) first axis is related to height on the shore and explains four times more variance than CCA second axis, which is related to the horizontal gradient. Generalized Lineal Model (GLM) results show that height on the shore is the factor explaining most of the variance in species presence. Most studied species show distribution patterns related to latitude and longitude, but always in a much smaller proportion than to height.
Sponsor: Financial support for this work was provided by projects “Cartography of the littoral habitats of Catalonia” (Departament de Medi Ambient & Institut Cartogràfic, Generalitat de Catalunya), GRACCIE (C5D2007-00067), CoCoNET (FP7 Grant Agreement: 287844) and INTRAMURAL CSIC 201330E065.
ISSN: 0272-7714 (Print) | 1096-0015 (Online)
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2014.05.031
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Peer Review: si
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Appears in Collections:INV - Fitopatología - Artículos de Revistas
Research funded by the EU

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