Effects of disturbance timing on community recovery in an intertidal habitat of a Korean rocky shore
Intertidal community recovery and resilience were investigated with quantitative and qualitative perspectives as a function of disturbance timing. The study was conducted in a lower intertidal rock bed of the southern coast of South Korea. Six replicates of artificial disturbance of a 50 cm × 50 cm area were made by clearing all visible organisms on the rocky substrate in four seasons. Each of the seasonally cleared plots was monitored until the percent cover data reached the control plot
... control plot level. There was a significant difference among disturbance timing during the recovery process in terms of speed and community components. After disturbances occurred, Ulva pertusa selectively preoccupied empty spaces quickly (in 2-4 months) and strongly (50-90%) in all plots except for the summer plots where non-Ulva species dominated throughout the recovery period. U. pertusa acted as a very important biological variable that determined the quantitative and qualitative recovery capability of a community. The qualitative recovery of communities was rapid in summer plots where U. pertusa did not recruit and the community recovery rate was the lowest in winter plots where U. pertusa was highly recruited with a long duration of distribution. In this study, U. pertusa was a pioneer species while being a dominant species and acted as a clearly negative element in the process of qualitative recovery after disturbance. However, the negative effect of U. pertusa did not occur in summer plots, indicating that disturbance timing should be considered as a parameter in understanding intertidal community resilience in temperate regions with four distinct seasons.