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Spatial patchiness of epilithic biofilm caused by refuge-inhabiting high shore gastropods

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard Stafford


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Aggregations of Melarhaphe neritoides and Littorina saxatilis are common on the high shore in north-east England. These aggregations are frequently found in crevices which act as a refuge from desiccation. The aggregations are surrounded by patches of epilithic biofilm which are visibly lighter in colour than the biofilm present on the remainder of the high shore. Chlorophyll a levels were lower in regions of close proximity to aggregated littorinids (mean = 4.9 μg cm-2) as compared to areas >5 cm away from the edge of the visible colour change (mean = 15.9 μg cm-2). Manipulations of littorinid density showed that areas of high density had significantly lower levels of chlorophyll a than those where littorinids were excluded. This difference was mainly due to the presence of higher numbers of small grazed areas or an increase in size of grazed areas rather than a homogenous change in chlorophyll a levels across the entire manipulated area. These results are supported by observations showing that only 7% of the total foraging time of littorinids was spent outside visibly lighter patches of biofilm suggesting littorinids only control local biofilm levels through grazing. © Springer 2005.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stafford R, Davies MS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Hydrobiologia

Year: 2005

Volume: 545

Issue: 1

Pages: 279-287

Print publication date: 01/08/2005

ISSN (print): 0018-8158

ISSN (electronic): 1573-5117

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s10750-005-3320-5


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