Ecology of sessile animals on sublittoral hard substrata: The need to measure variation


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This paper concerns assemblages of sessile animals occupying shaded, commonly vertical hard substrata in the shallow subtidal zone. We are interested particularly in questions about the coexistence of species and about what influences their joint dynamics. We propose a conceptual model which focuses on variation in characteristics such as birth and death rates, competitive interactions and dispersal. We argue that, qualitatively, this model appears to be a satisfactory representation of the important characteristics of certain sessile assemblages. Further, we suggest that it may explain the coexistence of a large number of ecologically similar species in assemblages that appear in a sense ‘stable’ (but where assemblages at different sites differ in detail). There is support for this assertion from formal theoretical work on simpler versions of the model. It is not sufficient merely to argue that the model seems satisfactory or plausible, so we finally consider what kind of data is needed for the further development and testing of this kind of model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-531
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian Journal of Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Plant Science


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