Aggregations of brittle stars can perform similar ecological roles as mussel reefs

Handle URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10754/623486
Title:
Aggregations of brittle stars can perform similar ecological roles as mussel reefs
Authors:
Geraldi, NR; Bertolini, C; Emmerson, MC; Roberts, D; Sigwart, JD; O’Connor, NE
Abstract:
Biogenic habitats, such as coral reefs, facilitate diverse communities. In aquatic systems, aggregations of mobile benthic species may play a similar ecological role to that of typically sessile biogenic habitats; however, this has rarely been considered. We quantified the abundance of sessile horse mussels Modiolus modiolus and aggregating brittle stars Ophiothrix fragilis and tested for correlations between the density of mussels (live and dead) and brittle stars each with (1) abundance, biomass, diversity, and assemblage structure of associated benthic macrofauna; and (2) percent organic matter of the sediment. We found that the abundance of live M. modiolus was positively associated with the abundance and biomass of macrofauna. The positive association between M. modiolus and macrofaunal abundance was further amplified with an increase in brittle stars and a decrease in dead mussel shells. Macrofaunal biomass was lower with a higher percentage of dead mussel shells, and macrofaunal diversity increased with greater abundances of live M. modiolus and brittle stars. Sediment organic matter was positively related to brittle star density, but not to the abundance of live or dead mussels. The positive relationship between brittle stars and sediment organic matter suggests that brittle stars could enhance rates of benthic- pelagic coupling. Given the importance of understanding the functional role of threatened habitats, it is essential that the underlying community patterns be understood through robust observational studies to then derive testable hypotheses to determine drivers. These findings provide novel insight into the ecological role of aggregations of mobile species, which is essential to prioritize conservation and restoration strategies.
KAUST Department:
Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
Citation:
Geraldi N, Bertolini C, Emmerson M, Roberts D, Sigwart J, et al. (2017) Aggregations of brittle stars can perform similar ecological roles as mussel reefs. Marine Ecology Progress Series 563: 157–167. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps11993.
Publisher:
Inter-Research Science Center
Journal:
Marine Ecology Progress Series
Issue Date:
29-Nov-2016
DOI:
10.3354/meps11993
Type:
Article
ISSN:
0171-8630; 1616-1599
Sponsors:
We thank all those who assisted with the organization and collection of data for this project, including H. Van Rein, T. Mackie, M. Service, R. Schneider, M. Allen, J. Breen, and the captain and crew of the FPV ‘Banrion.’ The manuscript was improved by comments from A. Anton. This study was made possible in part by a grant from the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment.
Additional Links:
http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v563/p157-167/
Appears in Collections:
Articles; Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorGeraldi, NRen
dc.contributor.authorBertolini, Cen
dc.contributor.authorEmmerson, MCen
dc.contributor.authorRoberts, Den
dc.contributor.authorSigwart, JDen
dc.contributor.authorO’Connor, NEen
dc.date.accessioned2017-05-14T12:03:57Z-
dc.date.available2017-05-14T12:03:57Z-
dc.date.issued2016-11-29en
dc.identifier.citationGeraldi N, Bertolini C, Emmerson M, Roberts D, Sigwart J, et al. (2017) Aggregations of brittle stars can perform similar ecological roles as mussel reefs. Marine Ecology Progress Series 563: 157–167. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps11993.en
dc.identifier.issn0171-8630en
dc.identifier.issn1616-1599en
dc.identifier.doi10.3354/meps11993en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10754/623486-
dc.description.abstractBiogenic habitats, such as coral reefs, facilitate diverse communities. In aquatic systems, aggregations of mobile benthic species may play a similar ecological role to that of typically sessile biogenic habitats; however, this has rarely been considered. We quantified the abundance of sessile horse mussels Modiolus modiolus and aggregating brittle stars Ophiothrix fragilis and tested for correlations between the density of mussels (live and dead) and brittle stars each with (1) abundance, biomass, diversity, and assemblage structure of associated benthic macrofauna; and (2) percent organic matter of the sediment. We found that the abundance of live M. modiolus was positively associated with the abundance and biomass of macrofauna. The positive association between M. modiolus and macrofaunal abundance was further amplified with an increase in brittle stars and a decrease in dead mussel shells. Macrofaunal biomass was lower with a higher percentage of dead mussel shells, and macrofaunal diversity increased with greater abundances of live M. modiolus and brittle stars. Sediment organic matter was positively related to brittle star density, but not to the abundance of live or dead mussels. The positive relationship between brittle stars and sediment organic matter suggests that brittle stars could enhance rates of benthic- pelagic coupling. Given the importance of understanding the functional role of threatened habitats, it is essential that the underlying community patterns be understood through robust observational studies to then derive testable hypotheses to determine drivers. These findings provide novel insight into the ecological role of aggregations of mobile species, which is essential to prioritize conservation and restoration strategies.en
dc.description.sponsorshipWe thank all those who assisted with the organization and collection of data for this project, including H. Van Rein, T. Mackie, M. Service, R. Schneider, M. Allen, J. Breen, and the captain and crew of the FPV ‘Banrion.’ The manuscript was improved by comments from A. Anton. This study was made possible in part by a grant from the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment.en
dc.publisherInter-Research Science Centeren
dc.relation.urlhttp://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v563/p157-167/en
dc.subjectBenthic-pelagic couplingen
dc.subjectBiogenic habitaten
dc.subjectBivalveen
dc.subjectBrittle staren
dc.subjectFoundation speciesen
dc.subjectOphiuroidsen
dc.subjectOrganic matteren
dc.subjectReefen
dc.titleAggregations of brittle stars can perform similar ecological roles as mussel reefsen
dc.typeArticleen
dc.contributor.departmentRed Sea Research Center (RSRC)en
dc.identifier.journalMarine Ecology Progress Seriesen
dc.contributor.institutionQueen's University Marine Laboratory, 12-13 the Strand, Portaferry, BT22 1PF, United Kingdomen
dc.contributor.institutionInstitute of Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, United Kingdomen
kaust.authorGeraldi, NRen
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