Hierarchical scales of spatial variation in the smaller surface and near-surface macrobenthos of a subtropical intertidal seagrass system in Moreton Bay, Queensland
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Core samples were taken along a 4 km stretch of intertidal seagrass on North Stradbroke Island, eastern Australia, at nested scales of 1 m (stations), 150 m (sites), and 2 km (localities) to investigate the extent to which abundance, diversity, and assemblage composition of the dominant smaller members (<10 mm) of the intertidal seagrass macrobenthos vary spatially and over what scales. Gastropods and polychaetes dominated both the 91 species present and, together with decapods, also the numbers of individuals. Abundance was low (mean < 2000 individuals m−2) but species diversity was high (overall Simpson’s index of diversity 0.91), with 44% of species occurring only as one or two individuals, and with only two species contributing >10% to the total numbers (the microgastropod Calopia imitata and crab Enigmaplax littoralis, both little known, rarely recorded endemics). On average, a species only occurred at 6% of stations and only four occurred at >25%. Assemblages at the three localities did not vary significantly in gross ecological features (levels of species richness, faunal abundance and species diversity per component site) (ANOVA P ≫ 0.05), but did vary markedly in their composition at all spatial scales (PERMANOVA P < 0.05). Variance partitioning showed that components of total variance were least at the largest spatial scale (locality 15.9%) and greatest at the smallest scale (station 59.3%). The commoner individual species all showed random distributions at small spatial scales but clumped distributions at large spatial scales.
KeywordsAbundance Diversity Dwarf-eelgrass Intertidal Macrobenthos Scale Spatial variance
The fieldwork was carried out within Habitat Protection Zone 02 of the Moreton Bay Marine Park under Queensland Government Department of Environment and Resource Management Marine Parks Permit No. QS2009/MAN18 for which RSKB is most grateful; as he also is to (a) the managers of the Foreign Travel Fund of the University of Cambridge and the Research Fund of St Catharine’s College Cambridge for financial support, and (b) the staff of the University of Queensland’s Moreton Bay Research Station on Straddie for their warm hospitality and unfailing assistance. We are also most grateful to Dr David Barnes for his helpful comments on a draft of this paper.
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