Context-dependent community facilitation in seagrass meadows along a hydrodynamic stress gradient

Lukas Meysick*, Tom Ysebaert, Anna Jansson, Francesc Montserrat, Sebastian Valanko, Anna Villnäs, Christoffer Boström, Joanna Norkko, Alf Norkko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Foundation species host diverse associated communities by ameliorating environmental stress. The strength of this facilitative effect can be highly dependent on the underlying biotic and abiotic context. We investigated community level patterns of macrofauna associated with and adjacent to the marine foundation species eelgrass (Zostera marina) along a hydrodynamic stress gradient. We could demonstrate that the relative importance of this foundation species for its infaunal community increases with environmental variables associated with increasing hydrodynamic stress (depth, sand ripples formation, sediment grain size and organic content). Faunal assemblages in proximity to the Zostera patch edges, however, showed no (infauna) or negative (epifauna) response to hydrodynamic stress. Our study highlights that the facilitative outcome of a foundation species is conditional to the faunal assemblage in question and can be highly variable even between positions within the habitat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-23
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Conditional facilitation
  • Ecosystem engineer
  • Foundation species
  • Habitat modification
  • Seagrass
  • Zostera marina


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