Short-term succession dynamics of macrobenthos in a salinity-stressed estuary




Ritter, Christine
Montagna, Paul A.
Applebaum, Sally


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Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology



It is postulated that early succession is influenced by environmental conditions directly after a disturbance event and the temporal scale of succeeding disturbances. For example, Rincon Bayou, Texas, U.S.A. is an estuary stressed by large fluctuations in salinity ranging from oligohaline to hypersaline conditions; leading to the question: are benthic succession dynamics interrupted or affected by the temporal scale of salinity fluctuations? To answer this question, succession dynamics were investigated by manipulation of 1) initial environmental conditions, and 2) time between severe disturbances. The influence of environmental conditions and time course of succession were investigated by comparing two experiments. A synoptic-deployment experiment where samples were deployed at the same environmental conditions and a synoptic-retrieval experiment where samples were collected from deployments under different environmental conditions. Both experiments were conducted at varying time courses of 2-, 4- and 8-week durations between severe disturbances. Severe disturbances were simulated with defaunated sediment. Ambient conditions were simultaneously sampled as a reference. Environmental conditions directly affected succession. In the ambient study, succession occurred in conjunction with changes in environmental conditions. In the synoptic-deployment and synoptic-retrieval studies, environmental conditions at the time of retrieval were more important in determining community structure than deployment duration or initial environmental conditions at time of deployment. Initial environmental conditions were not the primary mechanism in regulation of succession because succession is likely interrupted by frequent salinity disturbances. The salinity-stressed estuary of Rincon Bayou appears to be in a constant state of early and intermediate succession because of frequent salinity-related disturbances.






Ritter, C., P.A. Montagna, and S. Applebaum. 2005. Short-term succession dynamics of macrobenthos in a salinity-stressed estuary. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 323:57-69. doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2005.02.018