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Variations in Diversity within Benthic Marine Communities

Ralph Gordon Johnson
The American Naturalist
Vol. 104, No. 937 (May - Jun., 1970), pp. 285-300
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2459160
Page Count: 16
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Variations in Diversity within Benthic Marine Communities
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Abstract

From theoretical considerations, it is suggested that the continual occurrence of small-scale disturbances can account for part of the spatial and temporal variations of diversity within benthic marine communities. This small-scale stability hypothesis is evaluated in terms of how effectively it can serve as an explanation of variations in an intertidal community. Appreciable changes occurred at 10 of 20 sites studied in Tomales Bay from 1963 to 1967. The recurrent pattern of change at nine of these 10 sites can be readily explained by the stability hypothesis. The only difference between this explanation of diversity within communities and that between communities is the frequency and scale of the perturbations of the environment. A combination of the concepts of succession and the relationship between species diversity and environmental stability provides a theoretical context for predicting short-term changes in modern environments and for the interpretation of the stratigraphic record of ancient communities.

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