Colonization dynamics of experimentally disturbed areas of mudflat in the upper Bay of Fundy, Canada

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University of New Brunswick


Spatiotemporal variation in community composition results from regional and local factors. My objective was to assess the importance of certain local interactions (ecological successional mechanisms) and regional aspects (regional taxa pool) on infaunal diversity patterns in the upper Bay of Fundy's mudflats. I created local areas with severe disturbance and observed the infaunal community over ~2 months. I did this 4 times over 2 years and found that start time did not change the outcome: infaunal community composition in experimentally disturbed plots became similar to controls through time. I found significant correlations between infauna and water column invertebrates, and taxa that survived disturbance did not inhibit the arrival of subsequent taxa. My study demonstrated that ecological successional mechanisms were not influential on infaunal community composition in the upper Bay of Fundy, and that regional species diversity and invertebrate dispersal should be considered when evaluating infaunal diversity patterns in the future.