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Title: Community structure and recovery in cryptic intertidal communities reflects dynamics on open‐surface communities

Research on intertidal community structure and recovery in the California Current System has largely focused on macrophytes and invertebrates occupying two‐dimensional, readily studied “open” rock surfaces. However, most rocky shores have a “third” dimension that includes channels, cracks, crevices, and overhangs whose organismal assemblages, termed “cryptic communities,” are poorly studied. Cryptic communities not only share many species with those on more accessible surfaces but also include high abundances of colonial invertebrates such as tunicates, sponges, bryozoans, and hydrozoans. We investigated species abundance and diversity of cryptic communities and tested their recovery from disturbance by comparing removal plots to undisturbed controls for ~1.5 years. Additionally, we tested whether community structure and recovery varied with contrasting large‐scale levels of ecological subsidies (invertebrate recruitment, nutrients, and phytoplankton) and local‐scale microhabitat differences (emersion and solar irradiation) on the Oregon Coast. We compared cryptic recovery rates to recovery rates on open‐surface communities. In cryptic communities, site explained most (92%) variance in community structure of undisturbed plots, while microhabitat metrics had little (1.2%) effect. Further, recovery rates were faster at a site with higher subsidy inputs than one with lower subsidies in both cryptic and noncryptic communities. Hence, larger scale environmental drivers appeared more important than local‐scale drivers within cryptic communities. Our research provides novel insight into intertidal cryptic surge channel community structure and dynamics.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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