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Diversity 2014, 6(1), 1-17; doi:10.3390/d6010001
Article

Effect of Disturbance Regime on Alpha and Beta Diversity of Rock Pools

1,2
,
2
 and
1,*
1 Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Québec, G5L 3A1, Canada 2 Canada Research Chair on Terrestrial Ecosystems, Département de biologie, chimie et géographie, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Québec, G5L 3A1, Canada
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 September 2013 / Revised: 3 December 2013 / Accepted: 6 December 2013 / Published: 19 December 2013
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Abstract

Measures of alpha diversity are more frequently used to detect environmental changes and subsequent impacts on biodiversity, while measures based on variability (beta diversity) are said to be more appropriate for detecting those impacts. Theory predicts that beta diversity should increase with disturbance frequency in patchy communities. Our objective in this study was to experimentally determine the effect of high and low disturbance regimes, frequency and intensity combined, on marine benthic alpha and beta diversity. The experiment was conducted in a rock pool system of the St. Lawrence estuary, Canada. Rock pools were disturbed by (1) nutrient enrichment and (2) draining according to three disturbance regimes (none, low, high). Disturbance regimes had little or no effect on alpha diversity of benthic algae and sessile animals. However, the low regime of nutrient enrichment induced greater within-group beta diversity than the reference rock pools, while the high disturbance regime induced equal or even smaller within-group beta diversity compared to the reference. Draining had an opposite effect on benthic beta diversity, with a greater variability of the community structure under the high regime of disturbance. Taking into account the effect of disturbance regimes on beta diversity could provide a useful diagnostic for disturbed benthic communities.
Keywords: disturbance frequency; alpha diversity; beta diversity; benthic organisms; intertidal; rock pool; nutrient enrichment; draining disturbance frequency; alpha diversity; beta diversity; benthic organisms; intertidal; rock pool; nutrient enrichment; draining
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Séguin, A.; Gravel, D.; Archambault, P. Effect of Disturbance Regime on Alpha and Beta Diversity of Rock Pools. Diversity 2014, 6, 1-17.

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