Laurence Paquette

McGill University
M.Sc. candidate

Supervisor: Frederic Guichard
Start: 2012-09-03
End: 2015-06-01

Project

Effect of perimeter and area of mussel beds on the structure of their associated community and the ecosystem fluxes
Ecologists have shown a special interest in trying to understand and predict how ecosystems respond to the fragmentation of habitats. Fragmentation modify habitat configuration. When habitat patches reduce in size, their isolation increases and the proportion of borders relative to habitat area also increases. Studies have been interested by isolation, shape, area and edge effects on species richness and abundance. At the patch scale, area and perimeter, defined as the bordure length, are main parameters of habitat geometry which can influence species distribution and condition. As these parameters vary together, their effects have often been confounded in studies in the design or analysis. The objective of this study is to disentangle the relative effects of habitat perimeter, area and of their interaction on species abundance, richness and nutrient fluxes which is an important ecosystem function. Mussel bed promotes the establishment of number of species and forms an ecosystem. This ecosystem will be used as model for this study. Live mussels will be used to created artificial mussel beds of specific perimeters and areas, which will be fixed on the rocky coast. Area, perimeter and their jointed effects on species colonisation over time and nutrient fluxes will be assessed. Knowledge on their influences is of interest in order to identify characteristics of protected areas that managers will have to focus on to promote biodiversity and ecosystem functions as well as to improve the understanding of habitat fragmentation impacts.