Responses of growth to elevation fail to explain vertical zonation of suspension-feeding bivalves on a tidal flat
- 1) Institute of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 28557, Morehead City, NC, USA
- 2) Department of Zoology, University of Western Australia, 6009, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia
Five species of suspension-feeding bivalves were transplanted to each of two elevations on a tidal flat at Shark Bay, Western Australia, at six replicate locations spaced at 1-km intervals along the shore. Four species exhibited greatly reduced growth at the higher elevation, while the fifth species did not respond to elevation. The magnitude of the % reductions in growth with increased elevation was 2–3 times the % reduction in average daily submergence, confirming a previous suggestion that differences in feeding time alone are insufficient to explain completely the reduced growth of suspension-feeding bivalves at higher tidal elevatios. All four species that responded showed the same pattern of higher growth lower on the shore, even though transect sampling showed that two were normally abundant only high on the shore while the other tow were naturally restricted to elevations low on the shore. Consequently, knowledge of how individual growth within species varies with tidal elevation fails to explain observed zonation patterns with elevation in this guild of suspension-feeding bivalves. The paradoxical distribution pattern of those two species that were rare at the lower tidal elevations, where they actually grew more rapidly, implies that some biological agent(s) of mortality not physiological stress set(s) their lower distributional limit on the shore. Biological rather than physical factors commonly, although not universally, set lower distributional limits of invertebrates in rocky intertidal zones, but this study provides the first experimental data to explore this concept in marine soft sediments.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
- 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics