TitleTop-down and bottom-up community regulation in marine rocky intertidal habitats
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsMenge, B
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Strong top-down control by consumers has been demonstrated in rocky intertidal communities around the world. In contrast, the role of bottom-up effects (nutrients and productivity), known to have important influences in terrestrial and particularly freshwater ecosystems, is poorly known in marine hard-bottom communities. Recent studies in South Africa, New England, Oregon and New Zealand suggest that bottom-up processes can have important effects on rocky intertidal community structure. A significant aspect of all of these studies was the incorporation of processes varying on larger spatial scales than previously considered (10's to 1000's of km). In all four regions, variation in oceanographic factors (currents, upwelling, nutrients, rates of particle flux) was associated with different magnitudes of algal and/or phytoplankton abundance, availability of particulate food, and rates of recruitment. These processes led to differences in prey abundance and growth, secondary production, consumer growth, and consumer impact on prey resources. Oceanographic conditions therefore may vary on scales that generate ecologically significant variability in populations at the bottom of the food chain, and through upward-flowing food chain effects, lead to variation in top-down trophic effects. I conclude that top-down and bottom-up processes can be important joint determinants of community structure in rocky intertidal habitats, and predict that such effects will occur generally wherever oceanographic 'discontinuities' lie adjacent to rocky coastlines. I further argue that increased attention by researchers and of funding agencies to such benthic-pelagic coupling would dramatically enhance our understanding of the dynamics of marine ecosystems. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

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