Roles and consequences of environmental stress gradients on the structure and function of coastal benthic assemblages

Poster session
Partie de:
vendredi 20 déc. 11:30 AM (1 heure)
Dîner   12:30 PM à 01:30 PM (1 heure)
Salle ABCD
Habitat-forming species (HFS), such as macrophytes or mussel beds, often ameliorate harsh conditions for other organisms and are usually vital components of rocky shores providing essential marine ecosystem functions. The main objective of this project is to understand how co-occurring HSF may enhance diversity and the role they might play along the environmental stress gradients. Observations in the intertidal habitat of the St. Lawrence marine estuary were carried out at two levels of wave exposure, along an intertidal elevation gradient in a range of HFS macroalgae coverage. Algal and mussels species percentage cover and biomass were determined in each quadrat, and all organisms associated with each HFS were collected separately and will be identified, counted and weighed. Among expected results, we think that the diversity and species richness will follow a unimodal pattern across stress gradients being higher at intermediate levels of stress due to the facilitation effect by HFS. We also expect that the facilitation effect will be different between HSF and will be modified by exposure to waves. More interestingly, we expect that there will be a positive interaction in the presence of two HSF. There are still many gaps in our knowledge of how environmental gradients influence species interactions and distributions. This knowledge is crucial to be able to make ecological predictions about the effect of environmental change on biological communities, their functions and services they provide to humans and offer better management and conservation strategies on coastal habitats under multiple stressors.

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