Coastal upwelling drives intertidal assemblage structure and trophic ecology

Carl Reddin, F. M. Docmac, Nessa O'Connor, John Bothwell, Chris Harrod

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ecosystems. Coastal oceanic upwelling, for example, has been associated with elevatedbiomass and abundance patterns of certain functional groups, e.g., corticated macroalgae.In the upwelling system of Northern Chile, we examined measures of intertidal macrobenthiccomposition, structure and trophic ecology across eighteen shores varying in theirproximity to two coastal upwelling centres, in a hierarchical sampling design (spatial scalesof >1 and >10 km). The influence of coastal upwelling on intertidal communities was confirmedby the stable isotope values (δ13C and δ15N) of consumers, including a dominantsuspension feeder, grazers, and their putative resources of POM, epilithic biofilm, andmacroalgae. We highlight the utility of muscle δ15N from the suspension feeding mussel,Perumytilus purpuratus, as a proxy for upwelling, supported by satellite data and previousstudies. Where possible, we used corrections for broader-scale trends, spatial autocorrelation,ontogenetic dietary shifts and spatial baseline isotopic variation prior to analysis. Ourresults showed macroalgal assemblage composition, and benthic consumer assemblagestructure, varied significantly with the intertidal influence of coastal upwelling, especiallycontrasting bays and coastal headlands. Coastal topography also separated differences inconsumer resource use. This suggested that coastal upwelling, itself driven by coastlinetopography, influences intertidal communities by advecting nearshore phytoplankton populationsoffshore and cooling coastal water temperatures. We recommend the isotopic valuesof benthic organisms, specifically long-lived suspension feeders, as in situ alternativesto offshore measurements of upwelling influence
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0130789
Number of pages20
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2015


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