Marine Biology

, Volume 160, Issue 3, pp 493–502 | Cite as

Macrofaunal responses to structural complexity are mediated by environmental variability and surrounding habitats

  • Miguel G. MatiasEmail author
Feature Article


Investigating the context that surrounds each habitat is crucial to understand local responses of assemblages of species to habitats. Here, I tested whether responses of benthic macroinvertebrates to the structural complexity of experimental habitats were mediated by the characteristics of their surrounding habitats (i.e. rockpools or emergent-rock surfaces). Each type of surrounding habitat provided particular biotic (e.g. algal growth) and abiotic (e.g. temperature, water movement) conditions that were expected to affect benthic assemblages. The results show that (1) composition of entire assemblages was affected by the matrix and type of habitat; (2) effects of the matrix on the number of species varied depending on the different types of habitats; (3) abundant species showed specific responses to type of habitat, independently of the matrix; and (4) relationships between numbers of species and two major environmental variables (i.e. micro-algal biomass and sediment) varied depending on the type of habitats and the surrounding matrix. Generally, these findings demonstrate that understanding the consequences of the spatial structure of these habitats is essential to advance our knowledge on patterns of abundance and distributions of functionally important species and ultimately the structure of intertidal assemblages.


Benthic Assemblage Rocky Reef Artificial Turf Focal Patch Rock Platform 
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 work was supported by funds from the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) SFRH/BD/27506/2006 to MGM with additional support from the EICC (The university of Sydney). Tony Underwood, Ross Coleman, Dieter Hochuli, Mariana Mayer-Pinto, Ezequiel Marzinelli and Gustavo Martins provided helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. Emily Callahan, Francesca van den Berg and Rodrigo Roman provided valuable assistance with field and laboratory work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities, Marine Ecology Laboratories A11The University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Institut des Sciences de l’EvolutionUMR 5554, CNRS, Université Montpellier 2Montpellier Cedex 05France

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