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Environmental stresses and intertidal assemblages on hard substrates in the port of Long Beach, California, USA

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Nine intertidal stations within the Port of Long Beach, California, USA, were sampled during September and October 1975 using the random point method and the scraping technique. A total of 96,168 individuals belonging to 55 taxa were recorded in the quantitative survey; qualitative scrapings included 136 taxa. The protected outer coast intertidal assemblages were found at all but three stations along the shoreline. The shoreline, being situated in between the more environmentally stressed inner harbor and the less stressed open ocean, supported assemblages characterized by an instability in species composition. The upper midlittoral zone was typically dominated by Chthamalus dalli, C. fissus and Balanus glandula. The lower midlittoral was colonized either by Anthopleura elegantissima-Prionotis lanceolata facies along the outer breakwater or by A. elegantissima-Tetraclita squamosa rubescens facies along the inner breakwater. The mussel bed, which is the characteristic assemblage of the Californian lower midlittoral zone was obscured by the competitors P. lanceolata, T. squamosa rubescens and A. elegantissima, and was thinned out by predators, of which Pisaster ochraceus was the most voracious. Suspension feeders were dominant in the upper midlittoral and producers and grazers in the lower midlittoral. Predators were few in number and restricted to levels below mean lower low water. There was a gradual increase in numbers of intertidal species and individual abundance from level +5 ft (1.5 m) to level +1 ft (0.3 m) and from shoreline to outer breakwater. This may be attributable to the decrease in environmental stresses in the lower water levels and the improvement in water quality from the inner to outer harbor area.

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Communicated by J. M. Pérès, Marseille

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Loi, T. Environmental stresses and intertidal assemblages on hard substrates in the port of Long Beach, California, USA. Mar. Biol. 63, 197–211 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00406828

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  • Water Quality
  • Beach
  • Breakwater
  • Open Ocean
  • Hard Substrate