Ecological Research

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 695–709 | Cite as

Seasonal changes in an intertidal annual algal assemblage in northern Japan: The role of pre-emption and grazing on algal replacement

  • Takashi Noda
  • Noriko Minamiura
  • Yasushi Miyamoto
Original Articles

The pattern and process of seasonal changes in an intertidal annual algal assemblage were examined at Hiura, northern Japan. Short-term field experiments (<2 months’ duration) were set up to quantify the effects of both grazing and pre-emption on species replacement in the assemblage in three different seasons. An 8-month field experiment was set up to quantify long-term effects, including the indirect effects of both grazing and competitive dominance on the community structure. Results suggested that seasonal change in the algal assemblage resulted from the interaction of abiotic environmental change, competition and grazing. The relative contribution of these factors varied within a short period, presumably as a result of seasonal changes in physical environmental stress, free space availability and grazing pressure. From February to March, when grazer density was low and there was much free space available for algae, the dominant species shifted from foliose green alga Monostroma angicava to filamentous red alga Bangia atropurpurea, because B. atropurpurea grew faster than M. angicava. This species replacement was not influenced strongly by biological interaction but by temporal changes in abiotic environmental conditions. From April to mid May, when there was less free space available for algae in the natural community, the dominant B. atropurpurea decreased with increasing foliose red alga Porphyra yezoensis, because only P. yezoensis was able to invade an area pre-empted by algae. Grazing did not affect this species replacement. After mid May, the two dominant species, P. yezoensis and B. atropurpurea, decreased. Their decline was mainly caused by desiccation stress and was partially affected by grazing.

Key words

competition ephemeral algae grazing intertidal rocky shore seasonal community change 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Begon M., Harper J. L. & Townsend C. R. (1996) Ecology, 3rd edn. Blackwell Science, Oxford.Google Scholar
  2. Benedetti-Cecchi L. & Cinelli F. (1993) Early patterns of algal succession in a midlittoral community of the Mediterranean sea: a multifactorial experiment. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 169: 15–31.Google Scholar
  3. Benedetti-Cecchi L. & Cinelli F. (1994) Recovery of patches in an assemblage of geniculate coralline algae: variability at different successional stages. Marine Ecology Progress Series 110: 9–18.Google Scholar
  4. Benedetti-Cecchi L. & Cinelli F. (1996) Patterns of disturbance and recovery in littoral rock pools: nonhierarchical competition and spatial variability in secondary succession. Marine Ecology Progress Series 135: 145–161.Google Scholar
  5. Bengtsson J. & Martinez N. (1996) Causes and effects in food web: do generalities exist?. In: Food Webs. (eds G. A. Polis & K. O. Winemiller) pp. 179–184. Chapman & Hall, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Cubit J. D. (1984) Herbivory and the seasonal abundance of algae on a high intertidal rocky shore. Ecology 65: 1904–1917.Google Scholar
  7. Farrell T. M. (1991) Models and mechanisms of succession: an example from a rocky intertidal community. Ecological Monographs 61: 95–113.Google Scholar
  8. Harlin M. M. & Lindbergh J. M. (1977) Selection of substrata by seaweeds: optimal surface relief. Marine Biology 40: 33–40.Google Scholar
  9. Harper J. L. (1977) The Population Biology of Plants. Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
  10. Huchinson G. E. (1961) The paradox of the plankton. The American Naturalist 95: 137–145.Google Scholar
  11. Huston M. & Smith T. (1987) Plant succession: Life history and competition. The American Naturalist 130: 168–198.Google Scholar
  12. Japan Weather Association. (1997) [A Calendar and Tide Table in Hokkaido (I).]Japan Weather Association, Sapporo. (In Japanese).Google Scholar
  13. Japan Weather Association (1998) [A Calendar and Tide Table in Hokkaido (I).]Japan Weather Association, Sapporo. (In Japanese).Google Scholar
  14. Jernakoff P. (1985) An experimental evaluation of the influence of barnacles, crevices and seasonal patterns of grazing on the algal diversity and cover in an intertidal barnacle zone. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 88: 287–302.Google Scholar
  15. Kaehler S. & Williams G. A. (1998) Early development of algal assemblages under different regimes of physical and biotic factors on a seasonal tropical rocky shore. Marine Ecology Progress Series 172: 61–71.Google Scholar
  16. Kim J. H. (1997) The role of herbivory, and direct and indirect interactions, in algal succession. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 217: 119–135.Google Scholar
  17. Lubchenco J. (1983) Littorina and Fucus: effects of herbivores, substratum heterogeneity, and plant escapes during succession. Ecology 64: 1116–1123.Google Scholar
  18. Lubchenco J. (1986) Relative importance of competition and predation: early colonization by seaweeds in New England. In: Community Ecology. (eds J. M. Diamond & T. Case) pp. 537–555. Harper & Row, New York.Google Scholar
  19. Lubchenco J. & Cubit J. (1980) Heteromorphic life histories of certain marine algae as adaptations to variations in herbivory. Ecology 61: 676–687.Google Scholar
  20. Mcguiness K. A. & Underwood A. J. (1986) Habitat structure and the nature of communities on intertidal boulders. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 104: 97–123.Google Scholar
  21. Menge B. A. (1995) Indirect effects in marine rocky intertidal interaction webs: patterns and importance. Ecological Monographs 65: 21–74.Google Scholar
  22. Menge B. A. (1997) Detection of direct versus indirect effects: were experiments long enough? The American Naturalist 149: 801–823.Google Scholar
  23. Miyamoto Y. (2000) [Effects of secondary substrata on rocky intertidal benthic community at two spatial scales.] PhD Thesis. Hokkaido University, Hokkaido, Japan. (In Japanese).Google Scholar
  24. Seapy R. R. & Littler M. M. (1982) Population and species diversity fluctuations in a rocky intertidal community relative to severe aerial exposure and sediment burial. Marine Biology 71: 87–96.Google Scholar
  25. Sousa W. P. (1979a) Experimental investigation of disturbance and ecological succession in a rocky intertidal algal community. Ecological Monographs 49: 227–254.Google Scholar
  26. Sousa W. P. (1979b) Disturbance in marine intertidal boulder fields: the nonequilibrium maintenance of species diversity. Ecology 60: 1225–1239.Google Scholar
  27. Sousa W. P. (1984) Intertidal mosaics: patch size, propagule availability, and spatially variable patterns of succession. Ecological Monographs 65: 1918–1935.Google Scholar
  28. Sousa W. P. & Connell J. H. (1992) Grazing and succession in marine algae. In: Plant–Animal Interactions in the Marine Benthos. (eds D. M. John, S. J. Hawkins & J. H. Price) pp. 425–441. Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  29. Tilman D. (1988) Plant Strategies and the Dynamics and Structure of Plant Communities. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.Google Scholar
  30. Underwood A. J. (1981) Structure of a rocky intertidal community in New South Wales: patterns of vertical distribution and seasonal changes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 51: 57–85.Google Scholar
  31. Underwood A. J. & Jernakoff P. (1984) The effects of tidal height, wave exposure, seasonality and rock-pools on grazing and the distribution of intertidal macroalgae in New South Wales. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 75: 71–96.Google Scholar
  32. Valiela I., Mcclelland J., Hauxwell J., Behr P. J., Hersh D., Foreman K. (1997) Macroalgal blooms in shallow estuaries: controls and ecophysiological and ecosystem consequences. Limnology and Oceanography 42: 1105–1118.Google Scholar
  33. Wootton J. T. (1993) Size-dependent competition: effects on the dynamics vs. the end point of mussel bed succession. Ecology 74: 195–206.Google Scholar
  34. Yodzis P. (1996) Food webs and perturbation experiments: theory and practice. In: Food Webs. (eds G. A. Polis & K. O. Winemiller) pp. 192–200. Chapman & Hall, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takashi Noda
    • 1
  • Noriko Minamiura
    • 1
  • Yasushi Miyamoto
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Marine Biodiversity, Faculty of FisheriesHokkaido UniversityHakodateJapan

Personalised recommendations