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Ecology of Marine SedimentsFrom Science to Management$
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John S. Gray and Michael Elliott

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780198569015

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198569015.001.0001

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Temporal Variations in Benthic Assemblages

Temporal Variations in Benthic Assemblages

(p.109) Chapter 7 Temporal Variations in Benthic Assemblages
Ecology of Marine Sediments

John S. Gray

Michael Elliott

Oxford University Press

Most (but by no means all) benthic species have larval stages which use the water column for dispersal. As indicated in the previous chapter, a key process affecting recruitment to sediment systems is the need to disperse larvae in order to colonize new areas, even to the extent of releasing larvae at spring tides when the tidal excursion will be greatest, thus effecting an even greater dispersal. Seasonal release of larvae is the norm: most species develop gametes in spring and spawn in late spring or early summer (see Rasmussen 1973 for an excellent data set of the times of planktonic larval occurrence and settlement by many important north-west European boreal benthic species). Some species, however, avoid the high competition for food at this time and release gametes in autumn and winter. Thus larvae of benthic organisms are a key and often dominating component of the spring–summer plankton and play important roles as food for planktonic species such as fish larvae. Conversely, a number of planktonic species have resting stages in sediments. The most important of these are undoubtedly the diatoms and many flagellates, and also certain calanoid copepods such as Acartia, which are of course key components of the phytoplankton and zooplankton respectively. Diatom cysts are often found, and there is increased interest in the survival and hatching processes of dinoflagellate cysts that lead to harmful algal blooms. Similarly, the seasonal occurrence of many zooplankton species results from hatching of resting stages in the sediment (see (see Smetacek (1995), Boero et al. (1996)Pati et al. (1999) and Boero and Bonsdorff (2008) for reviews). The implication of many important planktonic species having benthic resting phases is that by predating cysts, benthic species may be able to control abundances of planktonic species. In this context the meiofauna are important predators (Pati et al. 1999). It is now important to consider the scales of temporal variation in benthic assemblages. First, seasonal changes occur in benthic assemblages of soft sediments even in the depths of the deep sea (e.g. Hsü and Thiede 1992). In spring, as light levels and temperature increase, a plankton bloom occurs.

Keywords:   climate changes, coastal systems, communities, competition, food webs, freshwater, gametes, global stability, global warming, macrobenthos, marine systems, meiofauna, mortality, neighbourhood stability, polychaetes, polyclimax, predation, predators, reproduction, shrimps, spawning, species evenness, storms, tellinid bivalves, temperature, tides, tropics, weather patterns, zooplankton

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