Biodiversity of the invertebrate community associated with the turf-forming red alga Corallina officinalis in tide pools
The invertebrate communities associated with the turf-forming red alga Corallina officinalis were investigated in tide pools on rocky shores of the coasts of England, Ireland and Wales. A total of 212 different taxa, including representatives from 14 phyla, were identified. There was significant small scale (between pools and within pools) variability and large scale variability (regional, between shores) in the diversity and community patterns of invertebrates associated with Corallina turf. These patterns were often not consistent between different shores and at different times. For example, greater numbers of species were found amongst Corallina turf from shallow depth in tide pools in winter than in summer. At regional scales, differences in the community pattern are correlated with temperature, though overall differences appear to be driven by a complex and interacting arrangement of biotic and abiotic factors such as habitat complexity and the hydrodynamic regime of the area. These patterns are also found when working at taxonomic levels other than species. Distinct temporal variation in the community was observed that followed a seasonal cyclic template. The observed temporal pattern is produced primarily by the behavioural adaptations and life history characteristics of the associated invertebrates. Assemblages associated with the tide pools frequently contained invertebrates that are small in size, produce few juveniles and have a tendency to brood their offspring or reproduce without a pelagic larval stage. These characteristics result in a clearly distinct community associated within Corallina turf on the coasts of the UK and Ireland. Patterns of the invertebrates associated with Corallina turf make an important contribution to our understanding of marine biodiversity. By examining such patterns in similar habitats at similar scales it is possible to make decisions concerning the conservation of the inshore marine environment.