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Predicting understorey structure from the presence and composition of canopies : an assembly rule for marine algae
journal contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Andrew IrvingAndrew Irving, S Connell
Assembly rules provide a useful framework fo rpredicting patterns of community assembly under defined environmental conditions. Habitat created by canopy-forming algae (such as kelps) provides a promising system for identifying assembly rules because canopies typically have a large and predictable influence on understorey communities. Across >1,000 km of subtidal South Australian coastline, we identified natural associations between assemblages of understorey algae and (1) monospecific canopies of Ecklonia radiata,(2) canopies comprised of E. radiata mixed with Fucales (Cystophora spp. and Sargassum spp.), and (3) gap samong canopies of algae. We were able to recreate these associations with experimental tests that quantified the assembly of understorey algae among these three habitat types. We propose the assembly rule that understorey communities on subtidal rocky coast in South Australia will be (1) monopolised by encrusting coralline algae beneath monospecific canopies of E. radiata, (2) comprised of encrusting coral lines, encrusting non-coral lines, and sparse covers of articulated coral lines, beneath mixed E. radiata-Fucales canopies, and (3) comprised of extensive covers of articulated coral lines and filamentous turfs, as well as sparse covers of foliose algae and juvenile canopy-formers, within gaps. Consistencies between natural patterns and experimental effects demonstrate how algal canopies can act as a filter to limit the subsets of species from the locally available pool that are able to assemble beneath them. Moreover, the subsets of species that assemble to subtidal rocky substrata in South Australia appear to be predictable, given knowledge of the presence and composition of canopies incorporating E. radiata.
Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)
Number of Pages12
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External Author AffiliationsTBA Research Institute; University of Adelaide;