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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Characterization of a subtidal gastropod assemblage in the Strait of Georgia Cabot, Eric L.


A subtidal site at Saturnina Island was sampled quantitatively to determine the seasonal and depth related trends of gastropod populations. The resulting density estimates were used to characterize the assemblage using diversity, niche-breadth, and cluster analyses. The relationship between gastropod abundance and diatom density, as estimated from colonization of glass microscope slides, was investigated One experiment, which was conducted at the site, was designed to determine whether the macrophytic algae still attracted the numerically dominant snail after the algae had been either cleaned with hydrogen peroxide, or killed by immersion in 50° C. seawater. Most species attained their maximum development after recruitment in spring or early summer. The greatest number of species was found at the shallowest station that was sampled, and abundances tended to decrease with depth with most species. Most of the snails had dispersion patterns that were similar to those of the two dominant species Marqarites costalis and Lacuna marmorata. Ninety-five percent of all the individuals collected were found to belong to five species. This high degree of numerical dominance severely affected the results of the diversity and the cluster analyses. Analyses of frequency vs. mean abundance, and niche-breadths revealed detailed information concerning the distributions of the gastropods that was not readily obtainable from graphs of mean density per quadrat. Diversity, species richness, the total abundance of gastropods, and the densities of several species were correlated to the abundance of diatoms. Several species were also found to contain diatoms among their gut contents. Several other factors, including parasitism, predation, low salinity-high temperature water, and competition are discussed as factors, which, in addition to diatom abundance, may have affected the gastropod dispersion patterns.

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