Population & community ecology
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  Removal-type studies
  Topics relating to population & community ecology include removal-type studies, considered here, and INTERACTIONS WITH KELPS KELPS & SEA OTTERS, GENE FLOW, and MASS MORTALITIES considered in other sections.
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Research study 1

photograph of a shore area in Barkley Soound featuring kelp Hedophyllum sessile, a favoured food of purple sea urchinsIf you want to know what role a species plays in the community, then one way to find out is to remove it and monitor what happens. A study in Mukkaw Bay, Washington, in which all purple urchins Strongylocentrotus purpuratus are removed from shallow intertidal tidepools, results in the appearance of numerous species of opportunistic algae.  The order of appearance of these algae is in accordance with the seasonal release of spores.  In time, the fleshy brown alga Hedophyllum sessile becomes the dominant of the larger canopy-forming species in the tidepools.  In nearby control tidepools, containing the original complement of sea urchins, the existing population of small calcareous and fleshy seaweeds is maintained. A longer-term photograph of purple sea-urchins Strongylocentrotus purpuratus in a tide-poolremoval experiment, this time with red urchins Strongylocentrotus franciscanus in subtidal regions in San Juan Island, Washington, leads during the first year to dominance in the habitat by bull kelps Nereocystis luetkeana, and in the second and third years to dominance by Laminaria groenlandica and other large kelps.   Paine & Vadas 1969 Limnol & Oceanogr 14: 710.

Purple urchins Strongylocentrotus purpuratus in a
tidepool with coralline algae and some fleshy forms

Brown alga Hedophyllum sessile (sea cabbage) growing
with the red alga Halosaccion glandiforme 0.1X

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Research study 2

Similar results are noted in a later sea urchin-removal experiment in Torch Bay, Alaska where, 1yr after removal of all sea-urchins Strongylocentrotus spp., an association of kelps develops of high biomass and diversity (5 species).  In the second year after removal of the photograph of kelp Lamniaria groenlandicasea urchins, however, a single kelp species Laminaria groenlandica becomes dominant.  Because of displacement of most annuals such as the kelp Nereocystis luetkeana by the competitively superior Laminaria, total biomass of algae actually decreases 2yr following removal of the sea urchins.  Duggins 1980 Ecology 61: 447.

NOTE this kelp is perennial and has broad fronds which not only shade smaller species, but likely sweep the area clean of microsopic gametophyte and young sporophyte stages during storms

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Research study 3

map showing study sites used in sea-urchin removal experiment, using Strongylocentrotus purpuratusphotograph of several purple sea-urchins Strongylocentrotus purpuratusA trend in the distribution of intertidal algae is for large brown species, either laminarians or fucoids, to predomonate at higher latitudes and turf-forming red algae to predominate at lower latitudes.  The role that sea-urchin grazing might be playing in preventing large brown algae from dominating in the low intertidal zone of southern California is tested by removing urchins Strongylocentrotus purpuratus at 2 locations.  Removal results in rapid algal recruitment.  Crustose corallines Lithothamnion spp. that are not eaten by urchins are rapidly overgrown by several species of short-lived red and brown algae, followed by recruitment of long-lived brown algae suth as Egregia, Cystoseira, and Halidrys.  Later on, however, both experimental sites become dominated by perennial red algae such as Gigartina, Laurencia, and Gastroclonium.  The extent of the red-algal ascendancy depends upon the timing of the sea-urchin removal.  If removed just prior to settlement season, then a dense cover of brown algae results.  However, if removed earlier, there is sufficient time for the perennial red algal species to preempt the space.  Sousa et al. 1981 Oecologia 48: 297.

NOTE  the study sites are Ellwood Beach and White's Point. The experiments are conducted over a period of 1-2yr

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