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Rocky shores as tractable test systems for experimental ecology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 November 2020

Stephen J. Hawkins
Affiliation:
School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, SouthamptonSO14 3ZH, UK Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, PlymouthPL1 2PB, UK School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK
Kathryn E. Pack*
Affiliation:
School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, SouthamptonSO14 3ZH, UK Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, PlymouthPL1 2PB, UK
Kieran Hyder
Affiliation:
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Pakefiled Road, LowestoftNR33 0HT, UK School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, NorwichNR4 7TJ, UK
Lisandro Benedetti-Cecchi
Affiliation:
Department of Biology, University of Pisa, Via Derna 1 I-56126 Pisa and CoNISMa, Italy
Stuart R. Jenkins
Affiliation:
School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, Menai Bridge, UK
*
Author for correspondence: Kathryn E. Pack, E-mail: katpac@mba.ac.uk

Abstract

Rocky shore ecology has been studied for a long time, starting with qualitative descriptions and becoming more quantitative and experimental over time. Some of the earliest manipulative experimental ecological studies were undertaken on rocky shores. Many, over time, have made considerable contributions to ecological theory, especially highlighting the importance of biological interactions at the community level. The suitability of rocky shores as convenient test systems for ecological experimentation is outlined. Here we consider contributions from rocky shores to the emerging concepts of supply-side ecology, the roles of competition, predation and grazing, disturbance and succession and positive interactions in structuring communities along environmental gradients. We then address alternative stable states, relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and bottom-up and top-down control of ecosystems. We briefly consider the feedback and synergies between ecological concepts and experimental work on rocky shores, whilst still emphasizing the traditional values of marine natural history upheld in JMBA since its first publication. The importance of rigorous experimental designs championed by Underwood and co-workers is emphasized. Recent progress taking advantage of new technologies and emerging approaches is considered. We illustrate how experimental studies have shown the importance of biological interactions in modulating species and assemblage-level responses to climate change and informed conservation and management of coastal ecosystems.

Type
Review
Copyright
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2020

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