Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 13–23 | Cite as

Linkages among physical and biological properties in tidepools on the Maine Coast



Tidepools experience significant gradients in ecologically relevant physical variables along the transition from ocean to terrestrial habitat (vertical axis) and from open coast to inner bays (horizontal axis). Associations amongst physical and biological variables, divided into algal, invertebrate and vertebrate (fish) groups, were examined in a tidepool survey dataset. Physical variables and the three biological groups were submitted separately to a principal component analysis (PCA). PCA scores were evaluated with Pearson correlation coefficients across the sampling units (tidepools) to identify significant correlations. Initially little structure in the data and no correlation amongst variables was present. At the onset of summer, correlations were confined amongst physical variables and algal and invertebrate components, followed in the late summer with correlations between invertebrate and fish components. By the fall, correlations were confined to fish and algal/invertebrate components. Species relationships followed a seasonal cycle with a succession from little to no structure, the forming of low trophic level relationships in the early summer to high trophic level relationships in late summer-fall, and deconstruction of structure with the onset of fall-winter storms and ice scour. The seasonal pattern, and well established vertical gradient, has nested within it species composition changes along a horizontal wave energy gradient. The horizontal gradient results in a shift from species which are physiologically adapted to extreme salinities and temperatures to those which are physically adapted to high wave-energy environments.


Ecological multivariate statistics Principal Component Analysis Tidepool fish Intertidal Ecosystem structure 



We would like to thank the National Park Service, United States Geological Survey, Maine Sea Grant and Northeast Consortium for funding this research and providing financial support to AJ and JC. Many thanks to Pamela Bryer, Regina Purtell, Susan Hayhurst and Natasha Hussey for data collection as part of the field team. Comments from two anonymous reviewers, editorial staff of EBF, and Jeanne Brown helped improve the manuscript substantially. This work is dedicated to the memory of John Moring, a friend and colleague we all miss.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Marine SciencesUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  2. 2.School of Marine and Atmospheric SciencesStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  3. 3.University of MaineOronoUSA
  4. 4.School of Marine Sciences, University of MaineOronoUSA

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