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Successional patterns of hard-bottom macrobenthic communities at kelp bed (Lessonia trabeculata) and barren ground sublittoral systems

Uribe, Roberto A., Ortiz, Marco, Macaya, Erasmo C., Pacheco, Aldo S.
Journal of experimental marine biology and ecology 2015 v.472 pp. 180-188
Lessonia, benthic organisms, ceramics, coasts, habitats, macroalgae, Chile
Although kelp beds and barren grounds are conspicuous ecological systems in temperate coastal regions, little is known about how these systems develop throughout succession; neither their trajectories nor their putative seral stages are presently well documented or understood. Herein, we present the results of a field study in northern Chile aimed to investigate the succession development of macrobenthic communities dominated by kelp Lessonia trabeculata and by crustose coralline algae (barren ground). At both sublittoral habitats, ceramic plates were deployed and the process of colonisation was then followed for 14months with the aim of describing and comparing the successional patterns of the benthic community. At both ecological systems, taxonomic richness, density and percentage of cover increased throughout time, although fewer species colonised the artificial substrate at the barren ground. Many species were common colonisers at both ecological systems; however, the structure diverged as different species were added to each colonising community. Our results suggest that the succession in kelp beds and barren grounds was habitat and community-specific following an early to advance sequence of development.