Netherland Journal of Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 49–60 | Cite as

The effects of Relic fauna on initial patch colonisation in a British saltmarsh

  • W. U. Chandrasekara
  • C. L. J. Frid


When a disturbance impacts an area it rarely leads to a complete defaunation, some individuals survive forming a ‘relic fauna’. Relic fauna in azoic patches in an intertidal soft-bottom habitat were simulated by the separate introduction of individuals ofNereis diversicolor, Hydrobia ulvae andLittorina littorea into defaunated cores. These were exposed in the field for 24 hours and the effects of relics on colonisation were assessed separately for colonisation via the sediment surface and colonisation via the surface and laterally through the sediment. After 24 hours all the species in the ambient community were recorded from at least some experimental cores. Densities of the most abundant infaunal taxa,Corophium volutator, Enchytraeus buchholzi, Manayunkia aestuarina, Tubificoides benedeni and nematodes, varied between 1% and 279% of ambient. MDS ordinations showed significant differences in the fauna of experimental cores, a result of the lack of full colonisation by some species and the presence of other species at densities in excess of ambient. Comparisons (ANOSIM and ANOVA) of the fauna of the relic addition cores vs. no-addition cores showed an influence ofN. diversicolor on colonisation. However, this relic effect appeared to be masked by the high degree of variation in colonisation. Densities ofL. littorina andH. ulvae were not maintained in all of the experimental cores and there was no significant difference in the fauna of cores in which the treatments were maintained. It therefore seems that initial colonisation of patches in the emergent saltmarsh is controlled by the (i) supply of colonists and (ii) attraction to under-exploited organic matter and that any relic fauna exerts little influence on the early stages of the colonisation process.


patch dynamics relic fauna colonisation benthic community saltmarsh mobile infauna Nereis diversicolor 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. U. Chandrasekara
    • 1
  • C. L. J. Frid
    • 1
  1. 1.Dove Marine LaboratoryUniversity of Newcastle upon TyneCullercoats, North ShieldsEngland

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