The role of colonization in determining spatial patterns of Proscoloplos bondi sp. nov. (Orbiniidae, Annelida) in coralline algal turf

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Journal Article
Marine Biology, 2003, 143 (5), pp. 909 - 917
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We describe Proscoloplos bondi sp. nov., a new species of orbinid polychaete found in coralline algal turf on rocky intertidal shores near Sydney, Australia. We used field sampling to describe P. bondi's patterns of spatial and temporal variation on a number of shores. P. bondi was significantly more abundant in low- than in mid-shore areas (ANOVA, P<0.05), but local populations were extremely variable in space and time. Despite extensive sampling, we did not find evidence of sexual reproduction in P. bondi, but commonly observed worms with regenerating heads and tails, which indicated the importance of asexual reproduction. We, therefore, tested the hypothesis that adult colonization contributes to its patterns of abundance. First, patches of artificial turf were placed near to and away from natural coralline turf and sampled after 2, 4 and 12 months. Generally, populations established themselves more quickly in patches of new habitat directly adjacent to coralline turf than in patches that were isolated. Second, patches of turf were deployed for 2-week periods in low- and mid-shore areas (repeated four times). Proscoloplos bondi were found significantly more often in patches in low-shore areas than in mid-shore areas and at some sites more than others (ANOVA, P<0.05), demonstrating the importance of adult colonization in determining patterns of abundance. Overall, the limited dispersal from spatially and temporally ephemeral populations of P. bondi combined with the patchiness of coralline turfs suggest that metapopulation dynamics may be important in the persistence of P. bondi on rocky shores.
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