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Intertidal coarse woody debris: a spatial subsidy as shelter or feeding habitat for gastropods?
Coarse woody debris (CWD) in the intertidal region of rocky shores serves as a potential source of nutrients as well as habitat or refugia from predation, ecologically linking the adjacent marine and terrestrial habitats. In a series of field and laboratory experiments, the affinity of slow-moving motile intertidal gastropods to CWD either as food source or as shelter that increases habitat complexity was tested. In intertidal pools, CWD did not increase colonization by Littorina spp., while it did so in supratidal pools. Habitat complexity, brought about by algal cover and barnacles, was apparently sufficient in intertidal pools without woody debris, while the increase in habitat complexity by CWD increased the attractiveness of supratidal pools with little natural complexity to Littorina spp. Overall, however, comparison of pools containing woody debris and those containing artificial shelter provided evidence for CWD, and/or its biofilm, serving as food source rather than refugium per se. Similarly, Tegula funebralis chose CWD as food source rather than as shelter as indicated by comparison of autoclaved and unmanipulated woody debris. Further, both unfed and fed snails from a site where CWD was present significantly preferred CWD over macroalgae. Among snails from a site without woody debris, fed individuals showed no preference, while unfed snails significantly preferred macroalgae. From this, experience appears to be a factor that mediates the role of CWD. Overall, however, CWD appears to provide supplementary food to snails in the inter- and supratidal zone.
Publication titleEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Department/SchoolInstitute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
PublisherAcademic Press Ltd Elsevier Science Ltd
Place of publication24-28 Oval Rd, London, England, Nw1 7Dx
Rights statementCopyright 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved