Jackson Estuarine Laboratory

Intertidal macroalgae and macroinvertebrates: Seasonal and spatial abundance patterns along an estuarine gradient


Quantitative sampling of the dominant intertidal epibiota was conducted seasonally along an estuarine gradient within the Great Bay Estuary System, New Hampshire, U.S.A. The abundance and zonation of the dominant macroorganisms varied with distance into the estuary. Replacement of marine by estuarine species occurred, and overall abundance and species richness decreased along the estuarine gradient. Zonation patterns within the inner estuary were primarily allied with substrata. Maximum abundance of invertebrates occurred in the mid-intertidal zone where a dense fucoid canopy provided habitat heterogeneity. Densities of epibiotic organisms decreased toward low water, especially in the inner estuary where hard substratum was limiting. Settlement blocks, introduced into the low intertidal zone, were dominated by barnacles and fucoid algae; after 16 months, the species composition on the settlement blocks resembled the adjacent community. Semibalanus balanoides settled in the spring, while Fucus vesiculosus var. spiralis exhibited low but constant settlement. Despite the physical rigors of the estuarine environment, only Semibalanus balanoides, Ilyanassa obsoleta and Spartina alterniflora showed significant seasonal changes in density. Thus, there are predictable and persistent epibiotic species assemblages within the intertidal zone of the Great Bay Estuary System.

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Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science

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Copyright © 1983 Published by Elsevier Ltd.