Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Community organization and succession in rocky intertidal surfgrass beds Public Deposited

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  • Succession and organization of rocky intertidal zone surfgrass beds (Phyllospadix scouleri Hook) were examined experimentally at two sites on the Oregon coast. The interaction of three attributes of the plant -- high persistence, high preemption, and slow recovery -- strongly influences the organization of surfgrass beds. Permanent plots indicate that surfgrass is persistent. Comparisons of experimental surfgrass removal and control plots demonstrate its preemptive ability, because removal plots are invaded by many algal species, but these algae are preempted from control plots. The slow growth of surfgrass rhizomes and the slower recruitment of surfgrass seeds indicate its recovery ability is low. The interaction of these phenomena produces a mosaic of surfgrass and algae in different successional stages. The successional sequence following a disturbance is more complex than predicted by any simple model because of temporal and spatial variation as well as differences in the species replacement mechanism. In some plots the early colonists, the perennial brown algal blade Phaeostrophion irregulare and the annual green algal blade Ulva sp., dominated for three years; in others they were replaced by a suite of middle successional species including the branched red algae Cryptosiphonia woodii. In other plots the slowest growing middle successional species, the branched red alga Rhodomela larix replaced other species. Part of this variability appears to be caused by large waves in the fall and winter, which remove large areas of algal cover, allowing dominant species to be replace by either earlier or later successional species. Part of the variability appears to be caused by local differences in the surfgrass understory before disturbance. Rhodomela larix is usually not completely removed by disturbance and regrows from its holdfast more readily than it recruits from spores. The mechanisms by which later species replace earlier ones differ depending on the successional stage. Established Phaeostrophion inhibits Ulva and filamentous diatoms. In contrast, certain middle successional species are necessary for seeds of the late successional surfgrass to recruit. The barbed seeds become attached to algal species with a central axis approximately 1 mm in diameter but not to algae with other forms.
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