The benthic invertebrate community inhabiting the extensive and sedimentologically homogeneous mudflats of South San Francisco Bay has demonstrated a high degree of constancy in both species composition and relative abundance among species throughout 10 yr of observation. The community, composed predominantly of introduced species with opportunistic lifestyles, is dominated numerically by Gemma gernma, Ampelisca abdita, and Streblospio benedicti. The key to the persistent co-occurrence of these species on the mudflats seems to lie in the combination of (1) the recurrence of minor disturbances of the mudflat habitat (e.g. sediment deposition/erosion, inundation by low-salinity water) on time scales comparable to that of life cycles; (2) opportunistic life history strategies (rapid maturity, brooding of young, multiple generations each year, ease of local dispersal of both juveniles and adults) that permit continued colonization of the mudflat surface or rapid recolonization after disturbances. Only 1 of the 3 numerically-dominant species. A. abdita, displays an annual periodicity in abundance. S. benedicti and G. gemma, through broadly flexible reproductive strategies permitted in the mild San Francisco climate, can exhibit strong recruitment at any time between spring and autumn. The most extreme community changes, involving temporary reduction or elimination of normally dominant populations, occurred as a result of anomalous disturbances such as unusual buildup and decay of an algal mat during 1 summer and prolonged periods of unusually high freshwater inflow during 2 successive winters. The introduced opportunists routinely co-occur at high densities. However, one of these, the tube-dwelling amphipod A. abdita, may control the abundance of the native mollusk Macoma balthica.
|Title||Persistence of an introduced mud flat community in south San Francisco Bay, California|
|Authors||Frederic H. Nichols, Janet K. Thompson|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Marine Ecology Progress Series|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||San Francisco Bay-Delta; Pacific Regional Director's Office|