The Influence of Algae Habitat complexity on the Associated Invertebrate Assemblage: Consequences for Taxonomic Distribution, Abundance and Diversity
Vesely, Deborah J.
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Habitat complexity concomitantly increases marine organism abundance, distribution and diversity (Hicks, 1980; Menge et al., 1976; Dean and Connell, 1987). However, the influence of substrate complexity on invertebrate habitat selection among algal species is unknown. In this study the influence of habitat complexity on the distribution and abundance of the invertebrate assemblages associated with five different algal species; Dictyopterus spp, Eisenia arborea, Macrocystis pyrifera, Sargassum palmeri, Zonaria farlowii, was tested. Habitat complexity was found to vary among algal species when assessed by measuring and comparing surface area and branching indices of each algal species. The algae and associated invertebrate assemblages were collected from Santa Catalina Island, California. The invertebrate assemblages were sorted by taxon and weight. The relative abundance, distribution and diversity of the invertebrate assemblages differed significantly among algal species. Algae that varied in surface area and branching indices, showed different distributions and abundances of individual invertebrate taxa. Patterns of similarity between invertebrate abundance and distribution associated with algal species varying in complexity suggest the influence of habitat complexity on habitat selection. These results can be further supported by an examination of individual invertebrate taxon life histories.