CARBONE Maria Elizabeth
Dominant Bivalve in an Exposed Sandy Beach Regulates Community Structure Through Spatial Competition
M. CECILIA CARCEDO; SANDRA M. FIORI; M. SOFÍA DUTTO; M. ELIZABETH CARBONE
ESTUARIES AND COASTS
Lugar: Berlin; Año: 2019
Fluctuations in abundance of dominant species can cause competitive release of resources with consequences on communitystructure and functioning. In the present study, changes in the intertidal macroinfauna community of an exposed sandy beachwere evaluated during two contrasting periods characterized by low and high densities of the yellow clam Amarilladesmamactroides. The increase in clam abundance and biomass was associated with a significant decrease in abundance of the restof the community. In particular, a decline was observed for the pea crab Austinixa patagoniensis, a commensal species that livesin the burrows of the shrimp Sergio mirim. Our study demonstrates that fluctuations in clam abundance lead to long-termchangesin community structure, suggesting the presence of competitive interactions. The environmental stability over the two periodsstrengthens the hypothesis that the competition between species is crucial for shaping the ecological community. Stable isotopeanalysis allows discarding trophic competition as mechanism of exclusion. Image maps reveal complementary distribution ofspecies, showing the relevance of the spatial competition, which is mediated by changes in abundance of a third species. Indeed,high densities of A. mactroides reduce the available area for the establishment of the S. mirim burrows, limiting the foragingbehavior of its commensal, the pea crab. Such an interaction drives density-dependent exclusion of the pea crab from theintertidal zone following the establishment of the yellow clam population. This study illustrates that spatial competition triggeredby the increase of a bed-forming species can have community-wide consequences in exposed sandy beaches.