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Predation: a regulating force of intertidal assemblages on the central Portuguese coast?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 June 2009

Sónia A.E. Brazão
Affiliation:
Laboratório Marítimo da Guia, Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida Nossa Senhora do Cabo, 939, 2750-374 Cascais, Portugal
Ana C.F. Silva
Affiliation:
University of Plymouth, Marine Biology & Ecology Research Centre, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, UK
Diana M. Boaventura
Affiliation:
Laboratório Marítimo da Guia, Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida Nossa Senhora do Cabo, 939, 2750-374 Cascais, Portugal Escola Superior de Educação João de Deus, Avenida Álvares Cabral, 69, Lisboa 1269-094, Portugal
Corresponding
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Abstract

Predation has long been recognized as an important biological force driving community patterns in intertidal rocky shores throughout the world. Little is known, however, about the role of predation by mobile marine predators in shaping intertidal prey populations in Portuguese rocky shores. The abundance and population structure of crabs were assessed during nocturnal low-tides on two rocky shores to characterize potential predator species. To assess the effect of predation on intertidal species including limpets, barnacles and mussels, predator exclusion experiments using full cage, partial cage and no cage treatments, were set up for two months on two shores on the central Portuguese coast. Pachygrapsus marmoratus (Fabricius) and Eriphia verrucosa (Forsskål) were the most abundant crabs. Results from predator exclusion experiments suggested that predators do not exert a significant control on abundance of limpets, mussels or barnacles on the midshore during the experimental period. Despite the fact that these crabs are known to feed on the analysed prey, several factors may account for the observed absence of impact on prey abundance and these are discussed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2009

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