DOI: 10.1111/maec.12785 ISSN: 0173-9565

Algal cover as a driver of diversity in communities associated with mussel assemblages across eastern Pacific ecoregions

Lynn Wilbur, Frithjof C. Küpper, Vasilis Louca
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Research on intertidal mussel assemblages and associated communities has revealed that complexity and structure are influenced by environmental heterogeneity and local‐scale factors affecting recruitment. Research in situ in eastern and western Pacific intertidal ecosystems has suggested drivers of species diversity and community structure encompassing large geographic scales, however, there are major gaps in geographic coverage. Our aim is to fill some of these gaps by analyzing macrofaunal functional group diversity and effects of environmental factors on intertidal mussel communities from three distinct marine ecoregions in the southern and northern hemispheres. We identified the effects of algal cover and environmental heterogeneity on species richness and evenness, and we modeled factors effecting mussel layer complexity from assemblages in three marine ecoregions. We analyzed macrofaunal species diversity within one of the austral ecoregions based on the width of the coastal shelf. Species richness was highest in samples from the northern hemisphere while evenness was highest in samples from the southern hemisphere. Similarity in functional group structure for all communities sampled was ≤55% (Bray–Curtis dissimilarity) and ≤35% (Chao–Jaccard dissimilarity). Wave exposure had a significant effect on shell length and complexity of mussel matrices on rocky bench platforms. The presence of algal cover had a strong effect on species richness in mussel matrices regardless of complexity, while algal canopies had no effect on species evenness. Overall, this study provides significant new insight on the community complexity of mussel beds in parts of the world which have been poorly studied in this regard.

More from our Archive