Early patterns of recovery from disturbance in intertidal algal assemblages: consistency across regions within a marine province

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Disturbance and the subsequent rate and pattern of recovery have long been recognised as important drivers of community structure. Community recovery is affected by processes operating at local and regional scales, yet the examination of community-level responses to a standardised disturbance at regional scales (i.e. among regions under different environmental conditions) has seldom been attempted. Here, we mechanically disturbed rocky intertidal lower-shore algal-dominated assemblages at 3 locations within each of 3 different regions within the Lusitanian biogeographical province (Azores, northern Portugal and the Canary Islands). All organisms were cleared from experimental plots and succession followed over a period of 12 mo, at which time we formally compared the assemblage structure to that of unmanipulated controls. Early patterns of recovery of disturbed communities varied among regions and were positively influenced by temperature, but not by regional species richness. Different components of the assemblage responded differently to disturbance. Regional differences in the relative abundance and identity of species had a key influence on the overall assemblage recovery. This study highlights how regional-scale differences in environmental conditions and species pools are important determinants of recovery of disturbed communities
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-142
JournalMarine Ecology: progress series
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2014
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