The biogeography and community structure of kelp forest macroinvertebrates
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The biogeography and community structure of kelp forest macroinvertebrates

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  • Journal Title:
    Marine Ecology
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    Understanding species distributions and their community structure is increasingly important when taking an ecosystem‐based approach to conservation and management. However, knowledge of the distribution and community structure of species in mid‐range trophic levels (e.g. macroinvertebrates) is lacking in most marine ecosystems. Our study aimed to examine the spatial distribution and community‐level biogeographic patterns of common kelp forest–rocky reef macroinvertebrates in Southern California and to evaluate the effects of environmental gradients on these communities. Quantitative SCUBA surveys were used to estimate macroinvertebrate densities at 92 sites from 2008–2012. Non‐metric multidimensional scaling was used to evaluate spatial patterns of macroinvertebrate communities among Regions. We found that kelp forest–rocky reef macroinvertebrate communities are distinct among different island and mainland regions, and their community patterns exhibited a strong relationship with an environmental gradient (i.e. sea surface temperature) even after controlling for geographic distance between sites. High abundances of urchin species (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and Strongylocentrotus franciscanus) were strong drivers of regional differences. Macroinvertebrate community patterns were driven by characteristic species that were typically more prevalent at warmer or colder sites. Our results provide the first quantitative analysis of macroinvertebrate community structure within the California kelp forest ecosystem. We also describe the distribution and abundance of 92 conspicuous kelp forest‐rocky reef macroinvertebrates among nine pre‐defined Regions. This study provides important preliminary information on these macroinvertebrate species that will be directly useful to inform management of invertebrate fisheries and spatial protection of marine resources.
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    Marine Ecology, 37(4), 770-785
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    Accepted Manuscript
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