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Vacant Bivalve Boreholes Increase Invertebrate Species Richness in a Physically Harsh, Low Intertidal Platform

1
Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC-CONICET), Ushuaia V9410CAB, Argentina
2
Grupo de Investigación y Educación en Temas Ambientales (GrIETA), Estación Biológica Las Brusquitas, San Eduardo del Mar B7783ADE, Argentina
3
Instituto de Geología de Costas y del Cuaternario (IGCyC, UNMdP/CIC) & CONICET, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata B7602AYL, Argentina
4
Instituto de Biología de Organismos Marinos (IBIOMAR-CONICET), Puerto Madryn U9120ACV, Argentina
5
Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia” (MACN-CONICET), Buenos Aires 1405DJR, Argentina
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11030039
Received: 15 February 2019 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 27 February 2019 / Published: 7 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
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Abstract

Ecosystem engineers can modulate harsh abiotic conditions, thus creating habitat for species that cannot withstand the local environment. In this study, we investigated if vacant boreholes created by the rock-boring bivalve Petricola dactylus increase species richness in the low intertidal zone of a Patagonian rocky shore characterized by intense hydrodynamic forcing and sediment scour. Invertebrate species richness was three times higher in engineered than unengineered habitats (i.e., with and without Petricola boreholes, respectively) and the increase in species richness was area-independent. The most prevalent species in unengineered areas showed strong adhesion mechanisms, whereas infaunal and vagile species were mostly restricted to boreholes. The positive influence of engineered microhabitats on species richness can largely be attributed to amelioration of physical conditions, particularly a reduction in hydrodynamic forces and sediment trapping/stabilization within boreholes. We conclude that vacant boreholes are essential microhabitats for the maintenance of biodiversity within the otherwise inhospitable low intertidal zone. View Full-Text
Keywords: ecosystem engineer; rock-boring; boreholes; harsh environment; low intertidal; rocky shores; increase species richness; Petricola dactylus ecosystem engineer; rock-boring; boreholes; harsh environment; low intertidal; rocky shores; increase species richness; Petricola dactylus
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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 (CC BY 4.0).

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Bagur, M.; Gutiérrez, J.L.; Arribas, L.P.; Palomo, M.G. Vacant Bivalve Boreholes Increase Invertebrate Species Richness in a Physically Harsh, Low Intertidal Platform. Diversity 2019, 11, 39.

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