Effect of habitat complexity on population density and species richness in tropical intertidal predatory gastropod assemblages
Structural complexity of the habitat significantly increases population density and number of species in assemblages of predatory gastropod molluscs (families Conidae, Muricidae, Mitridae and Vasidae) on intertidal, generally smooth, horizontal limestone platforms fringing tropical Pacific islands. The important topographic features are physical (depressions partly filled with coral rubble) and biotic (thick algal turf binding sand). Higher population density and species richness in areas with than without such natural refuges, and following experimental addition of artificial refuges on portions of habitat lacking them support this hypothesis. Two species of Drupa differ from the other species present in not utilizing refuges during times of physical stress; this is attributed to their depressed shell and broad, tenacious foot. Highest gastropod densities occur in steep-sided depressions and those containing much coral rubble and sand, suggesting that these are important qualities of refuges. We believe this is the first demonstration of how specific environmental factors affect population density and species diversity of benthic invertebrates in a coral reef-associated habitat.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
- 4 - ecologie animale, vegetale et microbienne
- 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics