Multi-scale heterogeneity in a macrobenthic epifauna community

Research paper by A. Migné, D. Davoult

Indexed on: 01 Mar '95Published on: 01 Mar '95Published in: Hydrobiologia


A quantitative study, based on monthly samples taken by divers with 0.1m2 quadrats, was conducted on a benthic community settling coarse sediments in an area exposed to strong water currents.The richness of the community was high both in terms of biomass (270±107 g m−2 in ash-free dry weight) and diversity (ten zoologicals groups for a total of 98 species). Three suspension feeding species were dominant: Ophiothrix fragilis, Urticina felina and Alcyonium digitatum accounted for more than 95% of the total biomass at all sampling periods.Spatial heterogeneity analysis confirmed the role of these three dominant species. Heterogeneity revealed at a scale of 0.1 m2 by dendrograms (qualitative similarity index) or by Factor Correspondence Analysis (FCA) (on biomasses) was due to the strong dispersion of rare species.The influence of the observation scale was visualised by building Rank-Frequency Diagrams using progressively aggregated replicates. The distribution of relative biomasses and the rank of the dominant species always stabilized at scale of 0.4 or 0.5 m2.The three dominant species were overdispersed at a scale of 0.1 m2 compared with a Poisson distribution. Spatial competition among the three species was suggested by their dispersion in the plane of the FCA. Calculation of a multiple linear regression (at the scale of 0.8 m2) showed negative relationships among these dominant species.Temporal homogeneity was indicated (at a scale of 0.8 m2) by dendrograms of species similarities among samples and by FCA performed on total biomasses.