Oecologia

, Volume 147, Issue 3, pp 556–564

A continental scale evaluation of the role of limpet grazing on rocky shores

Authors

    • School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Southampton
    • Centre for Research on Ecological Impact of Coastal Cities, Marine Ecology Laboratories (A11)University of Sydney
    • School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Plymouth
  • Antony J. Underwood
    • Centre for Research on Ecological Impact of Coastal Cities, Marine Ecology Laboratories (A11)University of Sydney
  • Lisandro  Benedetti-Cecchi
    • Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Uomo e dell’AmbientaleUniversità di Pisa
  • Per Åberg
    • Department of Marine EcologyGöteborg University
  • Francisco Arenas
    • Dept. de Biologia de Organismos y SistemasUniversidad de Oviedo
    • The LaboratoryThe Marine Biological Association of the UK
  • Julio Arrontes
    • Dept. de Biologia de Organismos y SistemasUniversidad de Oviedo
  • João Castro
    • Laboratório de Ciêncas do MarUniversidade de Évora
  • Richard G. Hartnoll
    • Port Erin Marine Laboratory, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Liverpool
  • Stuart R. Jenkins
    • Port Erin Marine Laboratory, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Liverpool
    • The LaboratoryThe Marine Biological Association of the UK
  • José Paula
    • IMAR-Laboratório Marítimo da GuiaUniversidade de Lisboa, Estrada do Guincho
  • Paolo Della Santina
    • School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Southampton
  • Stephen J. Hawkins
    • School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Southampton
    • The LaboratoryThe Marine Biological Association of the UK
Community Ecology

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-005-0296-9

Cite this article as:
Coleman, R.A., Underwood, A.J., Benedetti-Cecchi, L. et al. Oecologia (2006) 147: 556. doi:10.1007/s00442-005-0296-9

Abstract

It is critical for our knowledge of biodiversity and ecosystem processes to understand how individual species contribute to ecosystem processes and how these contributions vary in space and time. We used a manipulative field experiment in five locations over 17° of latitude [from southern Portugal to the Isle of Man (British Isles)] to determine the relative response of rocky intertidal algal assemblages released from control by the grazing of limpets. Response ratios showed that when limpets were removed there was a trend of effects from north to south. In the north, grazing had a strong effect on algal assemblages, but removing grazers reduced spatial variability in assemblages. In the south, the effect of limpet grazing was far weaker and removal of grazers had a much reduced impact on spatial variability. Here we show a clear trophic control of an ecosystem in that grazing by limpets not only determines macroalgal abundance overall but also modifies ecosystem stability via variability in cover of algae.

Keywords

AlgaeHerbivoryBiodiversityMeta-analysisCommunity

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006