Impact of a pulse human disturbance experiment on macrofaunal assemblages on an Australian sandy beach

Walker, Simon J. and Schlacher, Thomas A. (2011) Impact of a pulse human disturbance experiment on macrofaunal assemblages on an Australian sandy beach. Journal of Coastal Research, 27 6A: 184-192. doi:10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-09-00138.1

Author Walker, Simon J.
Schlacher, Thomas A.
Title Impact of a pulse human disturbance experiment on macrofaunal assemblages on an Australian sandy beach
Journal name Journal of Coastal Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0749-0208
Publication date 2011-11
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-09-00138.1
Volume 27
Issue 6A
Start page 184
End page 192
Total pages 9
Place of publication West Palm Beach, FL, United States
Publisher Coastal Education & Research Foundation
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Environmental control is widely accepted as the principal structuring force of the macrobenthos on sandy beaches: abundance, biomass, and species diversity of benthic assemblages are closely linked to variations in environmental conditions. Thus, disturbance events that modify habitat properties in these ecosystems are hypothesized to translate into strong and consistent community-wide responses; this is the central hypothesis of this study, which was tested by examining trajectories of macrobenthic assemblages in relation to the experimental introduction of a pulse disturbance event that consisted of concentrated vehicle traffic (600 passes over 3 days) applied to the intertidal zone in a multiple before–after control-impact design. Small-scale spatial heterogeneity and short-term temporal variability were pronounced for all composite descriptors of assemblages (i.e., total abundance, species richness, and diversity) as well as community structure. The experimental pulse disturbance in the form of increased off-road vehicle traffic lowered macrobenthic densities by 27–52% and resulted in significant temporal shifts of assemblage structure. These biological responses were, however, not always unequivocally linked to the disturbance event in all cases, because background variation in the absence of experimental manipulation of traffic could be of comparable magnitude. Thus, human pulse disturbance effects can operate against a matrix of considerable natural spatiotemporal variability over small scales on sandy beaches. This heterogeneity has traditionally not been sufficiently incorporated into our understanding of the dynamics of the macrobenthos on sandy beaches and emphasizes the need for more experimental approaches on sandy shores.
Keyword Anthropogenic disturbance
Sandy shores
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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