Response of benthic assemblages to multiple stressors : comparative effects of nutrient enrichment and physical disturbance
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Stressors to ecological communities often overlap in time and space and may have additive, synergistic or antagonistic effects. Nutrient enrichment and physical disturbance are 2 commonly co-occurring stressors to estuarine ecosystems, but their combined effects have mainly been investigated in mesocosm experiments of unknown relevance to field scenarios. Here, the interacting effects of these 2 stressors were examined at 2 field locations (Botany Bay and Lane Cove, New South Wales, Australia) using a fully orthogonal manipulative experiment. All possible combinations of zero, low and high intensities of nutrient enrichment and physical disturbance on macrofaunal and microphytobenthic communities were examined. Effects of stressors were generally site-specific and additive, differing in terms of magnitude of effects, although some idiosyncratic interactive effects were demonstrated for selected species. Where effects of stressors were observed, nutrient enrichment generally increased microphytobenthic biomass and altered the macrofaunal community structure while physical disturbance produced limited impacts. The divergent results of this and previous mesocosm experiments, which found primarily interactive effects of the stressors, highlights the importance of undertaking field experiments that offer a greater element of realism. Furthermore, this study, in finding differing responses to stressors at the 2 sites, highlights the importance of environmental context in mediating effects.
Kenworthy , J M , Paterson , D M & Bishop , M J 2016 , ' Response of benthic assemblages to multiple stressors : comparative effects of nutrient enrichment and physical disturbance ' Marine Ecology Progress Series , vol 562 , pp. 37-51 . DOI: 10.3354/meps11935
Marine Ecology Progress Series
© 2016, Inter-Research. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at www.int-res.com / https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11935
J.M.K. was supported by an International Macquarie University Research Excellence Scholarship during this research. Research funding was provided through the Department of Biological Sciences Macquarie University and an ARC Discovery Project DP1093444 to MJB. D.M.P. received funding from the MASTS pooling initiative (The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland) and their support is gratefully acknowledged. MASTS is funded by the Scottish Funding Council (grant reference HR09011) and contributing institutions.
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