Marine Biology

, Volume 149, Issue 3, pp 689–701 | Cite as

Intertidal community structure and oceanographic patterns around Santa Cruz Island, CA, USA

  • Carol A. BlanchetteEmail author
  • Bernardo R. Broitman
  • Steven D. Gaines
Research Article


Recent studies suggest that nearshore oceanographic conditions can have important effects on the structure of benthic communities. On Santa Cruz Island (SCI), CA, USA there is a persistent difference in mean annual sea surface temperature (SST) around the island due to its location at the confluence of opposing cold and warm ocean current systems. Over the course of a 4-year study (1997–2001) seawater nutrient and chl-a concentrations, algal tissue C:N ratios, recruitment and growth of filter-feeders (barnacles and mussels), and intertidal community structure were measured at six intertidal sites around the island. There were strong associations between remotely sensed SST and patterns of community structure. Macrophyte abundance was highest at sites with persistently low SST, while recruitment, abundance, and growth of filter-feeding invertebrates were strongly, positively correlated with SST. The cold-water sites were associated with higher nutrient concentrations and lower algal C:N ratios, particularly in the winter months. Values of chl-a were generally low and variable among sites, and were not correlated with the predominant SST gradient. Recruitment of barnacles and mussels was positively correlated with adult abundance across all sites. While detailed experimental studies are needed to further evaluate the mechanisms underlying community dynamics, these results indicate that the confluence of cold- and warm-water masses around SCI may determine the contrasting patterns of intertidal community structure.


Macrophyte Eastern Site Western Site Vertical Transect Intertidal Site 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This project has been funded by the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the California Environmental Quality Initiative grant to B. Broitman. We appreciate the support of the UC Natural Reserve System, L. Laughrin, The Nature Conservancy, Channel Islands National Park, D. Richards, D. Lerma, J. Engle, and P. Raimondi, and helpful reviews by L. Washburn and two anonymous reviewers. The following contributed greatly to field data collection: C. Svedlund, C. Mangiardi, J. Kovach, A. Wyndham, T. Jenkins, C. Krenz, B. Miner, P. Taylor, E. Maloney, K. Kusic, A. Kendall, and M. Williams. K. Casey generously provided geographic subsamples of Pathfinder AVHRR data. This is contribution number 198 from PISCO, the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans funded primarily by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and David and Lucile Packard Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol A. Blanchette
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bernardo R. Broitman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Steven D. Gaines
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Marine Science InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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