Diversity, trait displacements and shifts in assemblage structure of tidal flat deposit feeders along a gradient of hydrodynamic stress

C. Van Colen, A. De Backer, G. Meulepas, D. Van Der Wal, M. Vincx, S. Degraer, T. Ysebaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To assess the effect of variability in hydrodynamic stress on benthic assemblages we investigated whether deposit-feeding macrobenthos performs a unimodal response to an intertidal flat hydrodynamic stress gradient, congruent with the intermediate disturbance hypothesis (IDH), and whether this response is related to assemblage-wide biological trait displacements, reflecting species sorting mechanisms. Patterns in diversity and assemblage-wide biological traits were explained to a large extent by hydrodynamic stress and reflected in a significantly differing assemblage structure between stress levels. Our data did not support the IDH, since species richness and diversity peaked at low stress, whereas evenness was lowest at intermediate stress, suggesting that species sorting in response to hydrodynamic stress, rather than competitive exclusion at low stress, drives the diversity stress response. The decrease in species richness and diversity towards the hydrodynamically harsher low intertidal was reflected in the assemblage-wide shifts towards a lower dietary dependency on microalgal carbon and a deeper living position. Intermediate stressed assemblages were associated with a shift towards a more resistant development mode to superficial sediment disturbance. This is suggested to result from species sorting in response to Cerastoderma edule interference from bioturbation, which peaked at intermediate hydrodynamic stress where optimal hydrodynamic conditions for suspension feeders prevail. The present study demonstrated that the alteration of the natural hydrodynamic regime will significantly affect tidal flat benthic community composition and, hence, ecosystem functioning. Additionally, our findings reveal that inhibitory biophysical interactions, such as interference from bioturbation, should be incorporated in environmental stress biodiversity models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-89
Number of pages11
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Volume406
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

deposit feeder
tidal flat
hydrodynamics
sorting
species diversity
bioturbation
competitive exclusion
intermediate disturbance hypothesis
benthos
Cerastoderma edule
species richness
deposit feeding
macrobenthos
stress response
environmental stress
biodiversity
community composition
sediments
ecosystems
carbon

Keywords

  • Biological traits
  • Environmental stress models
  • Interference from bioturbation
  • Intermediate disturbance hypothesis
  • Species sorting
  • Tidal flat ecology
  • ITC-ISI-JOURNAL-ARTICLE
  • ITC-GOLD

Cite this

Van Colen, C. ; De Backer, A. ; Meulepas, G. ; Van Der Wal, D. ; Vincx, M. ; Degraer, S. ; Ysebaert, T. / Diversity, trait displacements and shifts in assemblage structure of tidal flat deposit feeders along a gradient of hydrodynamic stress. In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. 2010 ; Vol. 406. pp. 79-89.
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Diversity, trait displacements and shifts in assemblage structure of tidal flat deposit feeders along a gradient of hydrodynamic stress. / Van Colen, C.; De Backer, A.; Meulepas, G.; Van Der Wal, D.; Vincx, M.; Degraer, S.; Ysebaert, T.

In: Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol. 406, 2010, p. 79-89.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Diversity, trait displacements and shifts in assemblage structure of tidal flat deposit feeders along a gradient of hydrodynamic stress

AU - Van Colen, C.

AU - De Backer, A.

AU - Meulepas, G.

AU - Van Der Wal, D.

AU - Vincx, M.

AU - Degraer, S.

AU - Ysebaert, T.

PY - 2010

Y1 - 2010

N2 - To assess the effect of variability in hydrodynamic stress on benthic assemblages we investigated whether deposit-feeding macrobenthos performs a unimodal response to an intertidal flat hydrodynamic stress gradient, congruent with the intermediate disturbance hypothesis (IDH), and whether this response is related to assemblage-wide biological trait displacements, reflecting species sorting mechanisms. Patterns in diversity and assemblage-wide biological traits were explained to a large extent by hydrodynamic stress and reflected in a significantly differing assemblage structure between stress levels. Our data did not support the IDH, since species richness and diversity peaked at low stress, whereas evenness was lowest at intermediate stress, suggesting that species sorting in response to hydrodynamic stress, rather than competitive exclusion at low stress, drives the diversity stress response. The decrease in species richness and diversity towards the hydrodynamically harsher low intertidal was reflected in the assemblage-wide shifts towards a lower dietary dependency on microalgal carbon and a deeper living position. Intermediate stressed assemblages were associated with a shift towards a more resistant development mode to superficial sediment disturbance. This is suggested to result from species sorting in response to Cerastoderma edule interference from bioturbation, which peaked at intermediate hydrodynamic stress where optimal hydrodynamic conditions for suspension feeders prevail. The present study demonstrated that the alteration of the natural hydrodynamic regime will significantly affect tidal flat benthic community composition and, hence, ecosystem functioning. Additionally, our findings reveal that inhibitory biophysical interactions, such as interference from bioturbation, should be incorporated in environmental stress biodiversity models.

AB - To assess the effect of variability in hydrodynamic stress on benthic assemblages we investigated whether deposit-feeding macrobenthos performs a unimodal response to an intertidal flat hydrodynamic stress gradient, congruent with the intermediate disturbance hypothesis (IDH), and whether this response is related to assemblage-wide biological trait displacements, reflecting species sorting mechanisms. Patterns in diversity and assemblage-wide biological traits were explained to a large extent by hydrodynamic stress and reflected in a significantly differing assemblage structure between stress levels. Our data did not support the IDH, since species richness and diversity peaked at low stress, whereas evenness was lowest at intermediate stress, suggesting that species sorting in response to hydrodynamic stress, rather than competitive exclusion at low stress, drives the diversity stress response. The decrease in species richness and diversity towards the hydrodynamically harsher low intertidal was reflected in the assemblage-wide shifts towards a lower dietary dependency on microalgal carbon and a deeper living position. Intermediate stressed assemblages were associated with a shift towards a more resistant development mode to superficial sediment disturbance. This is suggested to result from species sorting in response to Cerastoderma edule interference from bioturbation, which peaked at intermediate hydrodynamic stress where optimal hydrodynamic conditions for suspension feeders prevail. The present study demonstrated that the alteration of the natural hydrodynamic regime will significantly affect tidal flat benthic community composition and, hence, ecosystem functioning. Additionally, our findings reveal that inhibitory biophysical interactions, such as interference from bioturbation, should be incorporated in environmental stress biodiversity models.

KW - Biological traits

KW - Environmental stress models

KW - Interference from bioturbation

KW - Intermediate disturbance hypothesis

KW - Species sorting

KW - Tidal flat ecology

KW - ITC-ISI-JOURNAL-ARTICLE

KW - ITC-GOLD

U2 - 10.3354/meps08529

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M3 - Article

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SP - 79

EP - 89

JO - Marine ecology - progress series

JF - Marine ecology - progress series

SN - 0171-8630

ER -