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Title

Impacts on Coralligenous Outcrop Biodiversity of a Dramatic Coastal Storm

AuthorsTeixidó, Nuria ; Casas, Edgar ; Cebrian, Emma ; Linares, Cristina ; Garrabou, Joaquim
Issue DateJan-2013
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 8(1): e53742 (2013)
AbstractExtreme events are rare, stochastic perturbations that can cause abrupt and dramatic ecological change within a short period of time relative to the lifespan of organisms. Studies over time provide exceptional opportunities to detect the effects of extreme climatic events and to measure their impacts by quantifying rates of change at population and community levels. In this study, we show how an extreme storm event affected the dynamics of benthic coralligenous outcrops in the NW Mediterranean Sea using data acquired before (2006-2008) and after the impact (2009-2010) at four different sites. Storms of comparable severity have been documented to occur occasionally within periods of 50 years in the Mediterranean Sea. We assessed the effects derived from the storm comparing changes in benthic community composition at sites exposed to and sheltered from this extreme event. The sites analyzed showed different damage from severe to negligible. The most exposed and impacted site experienced a major shift immediately after the storm, represented by changes in the species richness and beta diversity of benthic species. This site also showed higher compositional variability immediately after the storm and over the following year. The loss of cover of benthic species resulted between 22% and 58%. The damage across these species (e.g. calcareous algae, sponges, anthozoans, bryozoans, tunicates) was uneven, and those with fragile forms were the most impacted, showing cover losses up to 50 to 100%. Interestingly, small patches survived after the storm and began to grow slightly during the following year. In contrast, sheltered sites showed no significant changes in all the studied parameters, indicating no variations due to the storm. This study provides new insights into the responses to large and rare extreme events of Mediterranean communities with low dynamics and long-lived species, which are among the most threatened by the effects of global change. © 2013 Teixido et al.
Description13 pages, 7 figures, supporting information in http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0053742
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0053742
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/89730
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0053742
Identifiersdoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053742
issn: 1932-6203
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