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Effects of height on the shore and complexity of habitat on abundances of amphipods on rocky shores in New South Wales, Australia

Author(s): Schreider MJ


Patterns of abundance of epifaunal crustaceans were compared between two common brown algae in intertidal rock pools on a shore near Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Amphipods were significantly more abundant on Sargassum globulariaefolium (which was most common low on the shore) than on Hormosira banksii (more common at mid-shore levels). Experiments tested the hypotheses that height on the shore and structural complexity of the algae were the main factors influencing patterns of abundance of amphipods. Reciprocal transplants using defaunated plants and similar experiments using artificial plants allowed simultaneous tests of these hypotheses. The abundance of a common intertidal amphipod, Sunampithoe graxon was significantly smaller on Sargassum transferred from low to mid-tidal level of the shore than on any other treatments, indicating that height on the shore affects numbers of this species. There were no Sunampithoe on Hormosira even when transplanted to low shore areas, indicating that other factors, apart from the height on the shore, are also important for this amphipod. Another common amphipod, Hyale maroubrae was generally found in greatest abundances on Hormosira transplanted from mid- to low shore and on Sargassum low on the shore, again indicating the importance of height on the shore. There was no difference in abundance of amphipods on ‘complex’ and ‘simple’ artificial plants indicating that structural complexity (as defined in this study) did not influence these amphipods.

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