Shore height and differentials between macrobenthic assemblages in vegetated and unvegetated areas of an intertidal sandflat
Intertidal macrobenthic faunal assemblages of a dual seagrass/callianassid-structured sandflat system were investigated in subtropical Moreton Bay, Queensland. Consistently across all 20 stations, the gastropod-dominated seagrass supported greater abundance (2.5x) and species richness (2x) than the amphipod-dominated sandflat. There was no evidence of along-shore or up-shore variation in overall assemblage properties such as total abundance, species richness or diversity within either habitat type, except for variation in sandflat abundance between sites. But seagrass and sandflat assemblages both varied significantly in composition from site to site, and seagrass assemblage composition also varied with shore height. Shore height and site, however, only accounted for ≤41% of total variation. The two faunal assemblages showed a Bray-Curtis dissimilarity of 97.7% and within-habitat similarities of <20%. There was no consistency in distribution of greater diversity, dominance or evenness. No differential between any assemblage features in adjacent sandflat and seagrass samples changed with shore height, supporting hypotheses that such differentials are not maintained by predation. Macrofaunal species richness and diversity were closely coupled within sandflat stations but were uncoupled within seagrass ones, questioning the value of diversity as a comparative measure.