Early recolonization of sessile organisms and grazer effects on recolonization was examined in a high latitude nearshore rocky environment. A manipulative experiment using cleared boulders and cages was used to determine the time needed for initial recruitment and composition of early recruits. The hypothesis tested was invertebrate grazing is causing slow recolonization. Four years of monitoring cleared boulders resulted in an initial recruitment of primarily barnacles in year 3 on boulders that were caged to exclude grazers. The total percent cover on these boulders after 4 years was less than 2%. Cage control and uncaged boulders showed less recruitment. Uncleared and uncaged control rocks showed insignificant temporal variation. Concurrent observations revealed that macroalgae were reproductive during the study and that space was limiting in this community. This study strongly suggests that perturbations causing removal of hard substrate sessile communities in the Beaufort Sea will result in very slow community recovery.
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This project could not have been completed without the logistical support of the Dunton Brothers and BP (particularly everyone at Endicott Production Island). I also would like to thank my field assistants: Katrin Iken, Casey Debenham, Nicholas Harman, and Chris Wyatt. Ken Dunton guided many stimulating discussions on Boulder Patch biology. Katrin Iken and Ken Dunton provided insightful advice during this study and on the manuscript. This project was funded by the Coastal Marine Institute and BP.
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Konar, B. Recolonization of a high latitude hard-bottom nearshore community . Polar Biol 30, 663–667 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-007-0261-7