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Open AccessArticle

The Effects of Habitat Heterogeneity at Distinct Spatial Scales on Hard-Bottom-Associated Communities

1
Institute of Marine Science, Federal University of São Paulo (IMar/UNIFESP), Rua Dr. Carvalho de Mendonça 144, Santos SP 11070-100, Brazil
2
Center of Natural and Human Sciences, Federal University of ABC (CCNH/UFABC), Rua Santa Adélia, 166, Santo Andre SP 09210-170, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(1), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12010039
Received: 30 November 2019 / Revised: 9 January 2020 / Accepted: 15 January 2020 / Published: 20 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Meiofauna Biodiversity and Ecology)
For marine benthic communities, environmental heterogeneity at small spatial scales are mostly due to biologically produced habitat heterogeneity and biotic interactions, while at larger spatial scales environmental factors may prevails over biotic features. In this study, we investigated how community structure and β-diversity of hard-bottom-associated meio- and macrofauna varied in relation to small-scale (cm–m) changes in biological substrate (an algae “turf” dominated by the macroalgae Gelidium sp., the macroalgae Caulerpa racemosa and the sponge Hymeniacidon heliophile) in a rocky shore and in relation to larger-scale (10’s m) changes in environmental conditions of the same biological substrate (the macroalgae Bostrychia sp) in different habitats (rocky shore vs. mangrove roots). Results showed that both substrate identity and the surrounding environment were important in structuring the smaller-sized meiofauna, particularly the nematode assemblages, whereas the larger and more motile macrofauna was influenced only by larger-scale changes in the surrounding ecosystem. This implies that the macrofauna explores the environment in a larger spatial scale compared to the meiofauna, suggesting that effects of spatial heterogeneity on communities are dependent on organism size and mobility. Changes in taxa composition between environments and substrates highlight the importance of habitat diversity at different scales for maintaining the diversity of the associated fauna. View Full-Text
Keywords: meiofauna; macrofauna; associated fauna; biological substrate; species diversity; community ecology; benthic ecology meiofauna; macrofauna; associated fauna; biological substrate; species diversity; community ecology; benthic ecology
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Gallucci, F.; A. Christofoletti, R.; Fonseca, G.; M. Dias, G. The Effects of Habitat Heterogeneity at Distinct Spatial Scales on Hard-Bottom-Associated Communities. Diversity 2020, 12, 39.

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