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What do species do in intertidal ecosystems? Invited review
Crowe, T.P. (2004). What do species do in intertidal ecosystems? Invited review, in: Wilson, J.G. (Ed.) (2002). The Intertidal System, Proceedings of a Royal Irish Academy Symposium. pp. in press
In: Wilson, J.G. (Ed.) (2002). The Intertidal System, Proceedings of a Royal Irish Academy Symposium. Royal Irish Academy: Dublin. , more

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    There is a surprising lack of targeted research into the effects of loss of biodiversity onfunctioning of marine ecosystems. General theoretical models have been developed andthese have been tested in terrestrial systems, particularly grasslands, and in mesocosms.Findings have been controversial, however, with debate focussing on the role of speciesdiversity per se as opposed to the role of particular species from specific functional groups(functional diversity). Marine systems process materials and energy quite differently fromterrestrial systems and have a high degree of functional diversity. Specific models maytherefore need to be developed for marine systems and marine tests of general models couldbe valuable in resolving current ecological debates. Although targeted research is lacking,there is a considerable body of relevant work in intertidal systems and some of this researchis reviewed here. Idiosyncratic effects of loss of species appear to be prevalent in intertidalsystems and removals of more than one species often result in interactive effects, suggestinga high degree of complexity and unpredictability. However, it is thought that idiosyncraticeffects are more likely to occur in systems with ‘keystone’ species than in systems withweak or diffuse effects of consumers. Intertidal systems, particularly rocky shores, providean ideal model system for research into effects of loss of diversity on ecosystem function. Inaddition to distinguishing the roles of species and functional diversity, intertidal researchcould also characterise inter-trophic effects and relationships between the diversity ofecosystems and their stability and invasibility.

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