Special Issue "Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Marine Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Jorge L. Gutiérrez

Guest Editor
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Grupo de Investigación y Educación en Temas Ambientales (GrIETA), and Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar de Plata, Argentina
Interests: physical ecosystem engineers; biodiversity; ecosystem functioning; invasive species; intertidal organisms; coastal habitat conservation; rocky shores; salt marshes; tidal flats; coastal dunes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Research on physical ecosystem engineering—i.e., the structural modification of environments by organisms—has flourished during the last two decades. At present, the importance of physical ecosystem engineers for the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is largely recognized by scientists. However, there is a continuing emergence of studies revealing significant, though previously unappreciated engineers and/or engineering impact mechanisms. This indicates that the diversity of engineering processes and consequences in nature may still be much richer than we currently appreciate.

Because of incipient, localized exploration and ongoing environmental transformation, coasts and oceans across the globe hold major opportunities for ecosystem engineering research and discovery. The goal of this Special Issue is to illustrate the diversity of physical ecosystem engineering processes that occur in the world coasts and oceans—from coastal dunes and forests to the deep sea—with an emphasis on studies that go beyond the documentation of local engineering processes and inform our general understanding of, for example, important engineering traits, interactive engineering effects, engineering impact mechanisms and their context-dependencies.

Dr. Jorge L. Gutiérrez
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Diversity is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Physical ecosystem engineers
  • Engineered structures
  • Abiotic conditions
  • Biotic consequences
  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem functioning
  • Coasts
  • Oceans

Published Papers (16 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review

Open AccessEditorial
Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts: Case Studies and Conceptual Linkages
Diversity 2020, 12(6), 243; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12060243 - 15 Jun 2020
Abstract
Research on physical ecosystem engineering—i.e., the structural modification of environments by organisms—has flourished during the last two decades. At present, the importance of physical ecosystem engineers for the biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems is well recognized by scientists. This Special Issue contains [...] Read more.
Research on physical ecosystem engineering—i.e., the structural modification of environments by organisms—has flourished during the last two decades. At present, the importance of physical ecosystem engineers for the biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems is well recognized by scientists. This Special Issue contains fifteen papers that illustrate the diversity of physical ecosystem engineering processes that occur in the world coastal habitats—from coastal dunes to the shallow subtidal zone. It includes 2 reviews comparing ecosystem engineering attributes and impacts across taxa and 13 case studies that inform our general understanding of the variation in engineering impacts, compound engineering effects, novel engineering interactions, and engineered structural legacies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle
Effects of Changing Vegetation Composition on Community Structure, Ecosystem Functioning, and Predator–Prey Interactions at the Saltmarsh-Mangrove Ecotone
Diversity 2019, 11(11), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11110208 - 01 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Decreasing frequency of freeze events due to climate change is enabling the poleward range expansion of mangroves. As these tropical trees expand poleward, they are replacing herbaceous saltmarsh vegetation. Mangroves and saltmarsh vegetation are ecosystem engineers that are typically viewed as having similar [...] Read more.
Decreasing frequency of freeze events due to climate change is enabling the poleward range expansion of mangroves. As these tropical trees expand poleward, they are replacing herbaceous saltmarsh vegetation. Mangroves and saltmarsh vegetation are ecosystem engineers that are typically viewed as having similar ecosystem functions. However, few studies have investigated whether predation regimes, community structure, and ecosystem functions are shifting at the saltmarsh-mangrove ecotone. In this study, we manipulated predator access to marsh and mangrove creekside habitats to test their role in mediating vegetation and invertebrate structure and stability in a two-year experiment. We also conducted a survey to evaluate how shifting vegetation is modifying structural complexity, invertebrate communities, and ecosystem functioning at the ecotone. Excluding larger (> 2 cm diameter) predators did not affect vegetation or invertebrate structure or stability in either saltmarsh or mangrove habitats. The survey revealed that the two habitat types consistently differ in structural metrics, including vegetation height, inter-stem distance, and density, yet they support similar invertebrate and algal communities, soil properties, and predation rates. We conclude that although mangrove range expansion immediately modifies habitat structural properties, it is not altering larger predator consumptive effects, community stability, community composition, or some other ecosystem functions and properties at the ecotone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Living on the Edge: Variation in the Abundance and Demography of a Kelp Forest Epibiont
Diversity 2019, 11(8), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11080120 - 26 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The ecology of an epibiont may depend not only on the dynamics of its biogenic habitat but also on microclimate variation generated within aggregations of its host, a process called physical ecosystem engineering. This study explored variation in the abundance and demography of [...] Read more.
The ecology of an epibiont may depend not only on the dynamics of its biogenic habitat but also on microclimate variation generated within aggregations of its host, a process called physical ecosystem engineering. This study explored variation in the abundance and demography of Membranipora, a suspension-feeding bryozoan, within forests of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, USA. First, we assessed differences in Membranipora abundance between the edge and interior of kelp forests. The occurrence of Membranipora on kelp blades and its percent cover on occupied blades were higher along forest edges than interiors. Second, we conducted observational studies and field experiments to understand spatial variation in substrate longevity, colony mortality, larval recruitment, and colony growth rates. A higher density of recruits and colonies occurred along forest edges than interiors, suggesting kelp acts like a sieve, whereby larvae settle to edge blades first. Moreover, growth rates along the edge were up to 45% higher than forest interiors. Reduced current speeds, combined with feeding by exterior colonies, may have lowered the uptake of suspended food particles by interior colonies. These results suggest that variation in Membranipora abundance is due in part to differences in colony growth between forest edges and interiors, and not solely the result of recruitment limitation. Our results highlight the importance of ecosystem engineers in influencing the ecological dynamics of epiphytic flora and fauna in marine systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Red Grouper (Epinephelus morio) Shape Faunal Communities via Multiple Ecological Pathways
Diversity 2019, 11(6), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11060089 - 06 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Organisms that modify the availability of abiotic resources for other species can alter the structure and function of ecological communities through multiple pathways. In Florida Bay, red grouper (Epinephelus morio) engineer habitats by excavating sediment and detritus from karst solution holes [...] Read more.
Organisms that modify the availability of abiotic resources for other species can alter the structure and function of ecological communities through multiple pathways. In Florida Bay, red grouper (Epinephelus morio) engineer habitats by excavating sediment and detritus from karst solution holes and are also predators that consume a variety of benthic crustaceans and fish, some of which colonize engineered habitats. The effect of red grouper on these communities is complex as colonizing species interact with red grouper in different ways, including both direct (e.g., predator–prey) and indirect interactions. Here, I present the results of an experiment designed to test the direct effects of red grouper on faunal communities associated with Florida Bay solution holes by excluding red grouper from solution holes for four weeks. Red grouper presence generally had positive effects on the abundance, richness, and diversity of faunal communities associated with engineered habitats. Few strong interactions were observed between red grouper and colonizing species, mainly juvenile coral reef fishes. These results suggest that by acting as both a predator and habitat engineer, red grouper shape unique communities, distinct from those of surrounding areas, and influence the composition of communities associated with manipulated habitats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Species-Specific Functional Morphology of Four US Atlantic Coast Dune Grasses: Biogeographic Implications for Dune Shape and Coastal Protection
Diversity 2019, 11(5), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11050082 - 24 May 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Coastal dunes arise from feedbacks between vegetation and sediment supply. Species-specific differences in plant functional morphology affect sand capture and dune shape. In this study, we build on research showing a relationship between dune grass species and dune geomorphology on the US central [...] Read more.
Coastal dunes arise from feedbacks between vegetation and sediment supply. Species-specific differences in plant functional morphology affect sand capture and dune shape. In this study, we build on research showing a relationship between dune grass species and dune geomorphology on the US central Atlantic Coast. This study seeks to determine the ways in which four co-occurring dune grass species (Ammophila breviligulata, Panicum amarum, Spartina patens, Uniola paniculata) differ in their functional morphology and sand accretion. We surveyed the biogeography, functional morphology, and associated change in sand elevation of the four dune grass species along a 320-kilometer distance across the Outer Banks. We found that A. breviligulata had dense and clumped shoots, which correlated with the greatest sand accretion. Coupled with fast lateral spread, it tends to build tall and wide foredunes. Uniola paniculata had fewer but taller shoots and was associated with ~42% lower sand accretion. Coupled with slow lateral spread, it tends to build steeper and narrower dunes. Panicum amarum had similar shoot densities and associated sand accretion to U. paniculata despite its shorter shoots, suggesting that shoot density is more important than morphology. Finally, we hypothesize, given the distributions of the grass species, that foredunes may be taller and wider and have better coastal protection properties in the north where A. breviligulata is dominant. If under a warming climate A. breviligulata experiences a range shift to the north, as appears to be occurring with U. paniculata, changes in grass dominance and foredune morphology could make for more vulnerable coastlines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Plant Part Age and Size Affect Sessile Macrobenthic Assemblages Associated with a Foliose Red Algae Phycodrys rubens in the White Sea
Diversity 2019, 11(5), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11050080 - 17 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Facilitation by foundation species commonly structures terrestrial and marine communities. Intraspecific variation in individual properties of these strong facilitators can affect the whole suite of the dependent taxa. Marine macroalgae often act as ecosystem engineers, providing shelter and substrate for numerous associated organisms. [...] Read more.
Facilitation by foundation species commonly structures terrestrial and marine communities. Intraspecific variation in individual properties of these strong facilitators can affect the whole suite of the dependent taxa. Marine macroalgae often act as ecosystem engineers, providing shelter and substrate for numerous associated organisms. Epibiosis of foliose red algae, however, remains underexplored, especially in the high latitudes. Here we studied sessile macrobenthic assemblages associated with a foliose red algae Phycodrys rubens in the White Sea (66° N) shallow subtidal, and the effect of individual plant properties on their structure. The blades of P. rubens develop annually, and it is possible to tell the young (usually larger) plant parts from the old ones. We hypothesized that epibenthic community structure depends on plant part age and size. We examined epibiosis on 110 plants at two sites, and the results generally supported our hypotheses. Old plant parts were several times smaller, and had higher total cover than young parts. Sponges strongly dominated the epibiosis on old parts, and young parts were dominated by polychaetes and bryozoans. Plant part surface area negatively correlated with total cover on young parts, while on old parts the relatioship was location-specific. On young parts the relative abundance of a polychaete Circeis armoricana increased with surface area, and the proportion of sponges decreased. The patterns indicate that epibenthic community structure is linked to the demography of an ecosystem engineer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Canopy Cover on the Ecological Function of A Key Autogenic Ecosystem Engineer
Diversity 2019, 11(5), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11050079 - 17 May 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Intertidal fucoid algae can function as ecosystem engineers across temperate marine regions. In this investigation, we assessed the function of the alga dominating rocky reefs in temperate Australia and New Zealand, Hormosira banksii. Invertebrate and algal species assemblages were examined within areas [...] Read more.
Intertidal fucoid algae can function as ecosystem engineers across temperate marine regions. In this investigation, we assessed the function of the alga dominating rocky reefs in temperate Australia and New Zealand, Hormosira banksii. Invertebrate and algal species assemblages were examined within areas of full H. banksii canopy, areas where it was naturally patchy or absent (within its potential range on the shore) and areas where the intact canopy was experimentally disturbed. Differences in species assemblages were detected between areas with natural variation in H. banksii cover (full, patchy, negligible), with defined species associated with areas of full cover. Differences were also detected between experimentally manipulated and naturally patchy areas of canopy cover. Species assemblages altered in response to canopy manipulations and did not recover even twelve months after initial sampling. Both light intensity and temperature were buffered by full canopies compared to patchy canopies and exposed rock. This study allows us to predict the consequences to the intertidal community due to the loss of canopy cover, which may result from a range of disturbances such as trampling, storm damage, sand burial and prolonged exposure to extreme temperature, and further allow for improved management of this key autogenic ecosystem engineer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Biogeographical Patterns of Endolithic Infestation in an Invasive and an Indigenous Intertidal Marine Ecosystem Engineer
Diversity 2019, 11(5), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11050075 - 07 May 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
By altering the phenotypic properties of their hosts, endolithic parasites can modulate the engineering processes of marine ecosystem engineers. Here, we assessed the biogeographical patterns of species assemblages, prevalence and impact of endolithic parasitism in two mussel species that act as important ecosystem [...] Read more.
By altering the phenotypic properties of their hosts, endolithic parasites can modulate the engineering processes of marine ecosystem engineers. Here, we assessed the biogeographical patterns of species assemblages, prevalence and impact of endolithic parasitism in two mussel species that act as important ecosystem engineers in the southern African intertidal habitat, Perna perna and Mytilus galloprovincialis. We conducted large-scale surveys across three biogeographic regions along the South African coast: the subtropical east coast, dominated by the indigenous mussel, P. perna, the warm temperate south coast, where this species coexists with the invasive Mediterranean mussel, M. galloprovincialis, and the cool temperate west coast dominated by M. galloprovincialis. Infestation increased with mussel size, and in the case of M. galloprovincialis we found a significantly higher infestation in the cool temperate bioregion than the warm temperate region. For P. perna, the prevalence of infestation was higher on the warm temperate than the subtropical region, though the difference was marginally non-significant. On the south coast, there was no significant difference in infestation prevalence between species. Endolith-induced mortality rates through shell collapse mirrored the patterns for prevalence. For P. perna, endolith species assemblages revealed clear grouping by bioregions. Our findings indicate that biogeography affects cyanobacteria species composition, but differences between biogeographic regions in their effects are driven by environmental conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Ecosystem Engineering by Thalassinidean Crustaceans: Response Variability, Contextual Dependencies and Perspectives on Future Research
Diversity 2019, 11(4), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11040064 - 19 Apr 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Ecological functions in marine sedimentary habitats are greatly influenced by bio-engineering organisms. Thalassinidean crustaceans are particularly important in this regard, given their density, spatial occupancy and burrowing depths. These features coupled with high per capita engineering rates (bioturbation mainly) and the ability to [...] Read more.
Ecological functions in marine sedimentary habitats are greatly influenced by bio-engineering organisms. Thalassinidean crustaceans are particularly important in this regard, given their density, spatial occupancy and burrowing depths. These features coupled with high per capita engineering rates (bioturbation mainly) and the ability to modulate multiple resources simultaneously, place thalassinids amongst the most influential of ecosystem engineers in marine ecosystems. Research on these organisms has focused on mechanisms by which engineering effects are propagated, whilst drawing attention to the impact of ecosystem modification on ecological processes. However, disparities in the outcomes of global research suggest that complex dependencies underpin ecological responses to thalassinideans that we do not yet fully understand. It is in this context that this review draws attention to some of the dependencies in question, specifically by using existing models and hypotheses to (i) demonstrate how these dependencies can alter ecological responses to ecosystem engineering by thalassinids, and (ii) explain variability observed in outcomes of existing research. This review also shows the potential for explicit inclusion of such dependencies in future research to generate new knowledge on thalassinidean ecosystem engineering, from both fundamental and global change perspectives. More broadly, this review is a contribution towards advancing a predictive and mechanistic understanding of thalassinidean ecosystem engineering, in which biotic and abiotic dependencies are integrated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Communities and Attachment Networks Associated with Primary, Secondary and Alternative Foundation Species; A Case Study of Stressed and Disturbed Stands of Southern Bull Kelp
Diversity 2019, 11(4), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11040056 - 10 Apr 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Southern bull kelps (Durvillaea spp., Fucales) are ‘primary’ foundation species that control community structures and ecosystem functions on temperate wave-exposed rocky reefs. However, these large foundation species are threatened by disturbances and stressors, including invasive species, sedimentation and heatwaves. It is unknown [...] Read more.
Southern bull kelps (Durvillaea spp., Fucales) are ‘primary’ foundation species that control community structures and ecosystem functions on temperate wave-exposed rocky reefs. However, these large foundation species are threatened by disturbances and stressors, including invasive species, sedimentation and heatwaves. It is unknown whether ‘alternative’ foundation species can replace lost southern bull kelps and its associated communities and networks. We compared community structure (by quantifying abundances of different species) and attachment-interaction networks (by quantifying which species were attached to other species) among plots dominated by Durvillaea spp. and plots where Durvillaea spp. were lost either through long-term repeated experimental removals or by recent stress from a marine heatwave. Long-term experimental removal plots were dominated by ‘alternative’ foundation species, the canopy-forming Cystophora spp. (Fucales), whereas the recent heatwave stressed plots were dominated by the invasive kelp Undaria pinnatifida (Laminariales). A network analysis of attachment interactions showed that communities differed among plots dominated by either Durvillaea spp., Cystophora spp. or U. pinnatifida, with different relationships between the primary, or alternative, foundation species and attached epiphytic ‘secondary’ foundation species. For example, native Cystophora spp. were more important as hosts for secondary foundation species compared to Durvillaea spp. and U. pinnatifida. Instead, Durvillaea spp. facilitated encrusting algae, which in turn provided habitat for gastropods. We conclude that (a) repeated disturbances and strong stressors can reveal ecological differences between primary and alternative foundation species, (b) analyses of abundances and attachment-networks are supplementary methods to identify linkages between primary, alternative and secondary foundation species, and (c) interspersed habitats dominated by different types of foundation species increase system-level biodiversity by supporting different species-abundance patterns and species-attachment networks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Vacant Bivalve Boreholes Increase Invertebrate Species Richness in a Physically Harsh, Low Intertidal Platform
Diversity 2019, 11(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11030039 - 07 Mar 2019
Cited by 2
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
A Facilitation Cascade Enhances Local Biodiversity in Seagrass Beds
Diversity 2019, 11(3), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11030030 - 26 Feb 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Invertebrate diversity can be a key driver of ecosystem functioning, yet understanding what factors influence local biodiversity remains uncertain. In many marine and terrestrial systems, facilitation cascades where primary foundation and/or autogenic ecosystem engineering species promote the settlement and survival of a secondary [...] Read more.
Invertebrate diversity can be a key driver of ecosystem functioning, yet understanding what factors influence local biodiversity remains uncertain. In many marine and terrestrial systems, facilitation cascades where primary foundation and/or autogenic ecosystem engineering species promote the settlement and survival of a secondary foundation/engineering species have been shown to enhance local biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. We experimentally tested if a facilitation cascade occurs among eelgrass (Zostera marina), pen clams (Atrina rigida), and community diversity in temperate seagrass beds in North Carolina, U.S.A., and if this sequence of direct positive interactions created feedbacks that affected various metrics of seagrass ecosystem function and structure. Using a combination of surveys and transplant experiments, we found that pen clam density and survivorship was significantly greater in seagrass beds, indicating that eelgrass facilitates pen clams. Pen clams in turn enhanced local diversity and increased both the abundance and species richness of organisms (specifically, macroalgae and fouling invertebrate fauna)—the effect of which scaled with increasing clam density. However, we failed to detect an impact of pen clams on other seagrass functions and hypothesize that functioning may more likely be enhanced in scenarios where secondary foundation species specifically increase the diversity of key functional groups such as epiphyte grazers and/or when bivalves are infaunal rather than epifaunal. Our findings add to the growing amount of literature that demonstrates that secondary foundation species are important drivers of local biodiversity in marine ecosystems. Further experimentation is needed that directly examines (i) the role of functional versus overall diversity on seagrass functions and (ii) the relative importance of life-history strategy in determining when and where engineering bivalves increase biodiversity and/or functioning of seagrass beds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Algal Epibionts as Co-Engineers in Mussel Beds: Effects on Abiotic Conditions and Mobile Interstitial Invertebrates
Diversity 2019, 11(2), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11020017 - 29 Jan 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Mussels and macroalgae have long been recognized as physical ecosystem engineers that modulate abiotic conditions and resources and affect the composition of rocky shore assemblages. Their spatial distributions in the intertidal zone frequently overlap, as many algal species thrive as epibionts on mussel [...] Read more.
Mussels and macroalgae have long been recognized as physical ecosystem engineers that modulate abiotic conditions and resources and affect the composition of rocky shore assemblages. Their spatial distributions in the intertidal zone frequently overlap, as many algal species thrive as epibionts on mussel beds. Nonetheless, their potential for combined engineering effects has not been addressed to date. Here we illustrate that Porphyra sp.—a desiccation-resistant macroalga that develops mostly epiphytically onto mussel beds—affects temperature, desiccation levels, and mobile interstitial invertebrates in mussel beds. Specifically, we observed that Porphyra cover (a) reduced temperature at the surface of the mussel bed but not at their base, (b) reduced desiccation both at the surface and base of the mussel bed and, (c) increased the densities of an abundant interstitial species—the amphipod Hyale grandicornis—in several study sites/dates. Additionally, we found that the positive responses of these grazing amphipods to Porphyra were driven by physical habitat modification (engineering) rather than food availability. This suggests that co-engineering by Porphyra and mussels generates abiotic states and focal species responses that would not be predictable from their individual effects. We expect that increased appreciation of co-engineering aids our understanding of complex ecological dynamics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
After the Fall: Legacy Effects of Biogenic Structure on Wind-Generated Ecosystem Processes Following Mussel Bed Collapse
Diversity 2019, 11(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11010011 - 15 Jan 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) are ecosystem engineers with strong effects on species diversity and abundances. Mussel beds appear to be declining in the Gulf of Maine, apparently due to climate change and predation by the invasive green crab, Carcinus maenas. [...] Read more.
Blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) are ecosystem engineers with strong effects on species diversity and abundances. Mussel beds appear to be declining in the Gulf of Maine, apparently due to climate change and predation by the invasive green crab, Carcinus maenas. As mussels die, they create a legacy of large expanses of shell biogenic structure. In Maine, USA, we used bottom traps to examine effects of four bottom cover types (i.e., live mussels, whole shells, fragmented shells, bare sediment) and wind condition (i.e., days with high, intermediate, and low values) on flow-related ecosystem processes. Significant differences in transport of sediment, meiofauna, and macrofauna were found among cover types and days, with no significant interaction between the two factors. Wind condition had positive effects on transport. Shell hash, especially fragmented shells, had negative effects, possibly because it acted as bed armor to reduce wind-generated erosion and resuspension. Copepods had the greatest mobility and shortest turnover times (0.15 d), followed by nematodes (1.96 d) and the macrofauna dominant, Tubificoides benedeni (2.35 d). Shell legacy effects may play an important role in soft-bottom system responses to wind-generated ecosystem processes, particularly in collapsed mussel beds, with implications for recolonization, connectivity, and the creation and maintenance of spatial pattern. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Individual Morphology and Habitat Structure Alter Social Interactions in a Range-Shifting Species
Diversity 2019, 11(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11010006 - 05 Jan 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Ecosystem engineers that serve as foundation species shape the ecology and behavior of the species which depend on them. As species shift their geographic ranges into ecosystems they have not previously inhabited, it is important to understand how interactions with novel foundation species [...] Read more.
Ecosystem engineers that serve as foundation species shape the ecology and behavior of the species which depend on them. As species shift their geographic ranges into ecosystems they have not previously inhabited, it is important to understand how interactions with novel foundation species alter their behavior. By employing behavioral assays and morphological analyses, we examined how individual morphology and foundation species structure impact the ritualistic aggression behavior of the range shifting mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii between its historic and colonized habitats. Structure of the foundation species of the colonized salt marsh ecosystem increases the incidence and risk of this behavior over the historic mangrove habitat, potentially negating benefits of ritualizing aggression. Further, docks within the salt marsh, which are structurally analogous to mangroves, mitigate some, but not all, of the increased costs of performing ritualized aggression. Crabs in the salt marsh also had relatively larger claws than conspecifics from the dock and mangrove habitats, which has implications for the risk and outcomes of ritualized interactions. These changes to morphology and behavior highlight the impacts that foundation species structure can have on the morphology, ecology, and behavior of organisms and the importance of studying these impacts in range shifting species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research

Open AccessReview
Role of Reef-Building, Ecosystem Engineering Polychaetes in Shallow Water Ecosystems
Diversity 2019, 11(9), 168; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11090168 - 17 Sep 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Although the effect of ecosystem engineers in structuring communities is common in several systems, it is seldom as evident as in shallow marine soft-bottoms. These systems lack abiotic three-dimensional structures but host biogenic structures that play critical roles in controlling abiotic conditions and [...] Read more.
Although the effect of ecosystem engineers in structuring communities is common in several systems, it is seldom as evident as in shallow marine soft-bottoms. These systems lack abiotic three-dimensional structures but host biogenic structures that play critical roles in controlling abiotic conditions and resources. Here I review how reef-building polychaetes (RBP) engineer their environment and affect habitat quality, thus regulating community structure, ecosystem functioning, and the provision of ecosystem services in shallow waters. The analysis focuses on different engineering mechanisms, such as hard substrate production, effects on hydrodynamics, and sediment transport, and impacts mediated by filter feeding and biodeposition. Finally, I deal with landscape-level topographic alteration by RBP. In conclusion, RBP have positive impacts on diversity and abundance of many species mediated by the structure of the reef. Additionally, by feeding on phytoplankton and decreasing water turbidity, RBP can control primary production, increase light penetration, and might alleviate the effects of eutrophication affecting supporting ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling. They can also modulate cultural ecosystem services by affecting recreational activities (e.g., negative impacts on boating and angling, increased value of sites as birdwatching sites). Acknowledging the multiplicity of synergistic and antagonistic effects of RBP on ecosystems and linking changes in habitat structure, filter-feeding activities, and biodeposition to ecosystem services are essential for effective decision-making regarding their management and restoration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop