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What limits the distributions of coastally restricted terrestrial invertebrates? The case of coastal landhoppers (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Talitridae) in southern Tasmania

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Abstract Aim 

A number of terrestrial invertebrates are known to have distributions limited to the immediate coastal zone, but the factors controlling their distributions are not well understood. This study was planned to correlate the distribution of a coastal terrestrial amphipod, Austrotroides maritimus Friend 1987, which is only found within 100 m of the high tide mark, with soil characteristics and salt deposition. Location 

South Cape Rivulet Bay on the south coast of Tasmania (146°47′ E, 43°36′ S). Methods 

Abundance of the amphipods was examined at four sites c. 200 m apart that varied in their exposure to onshore westerly winds. At each site four replicate transect lines were established 3 m apart, with pitfall traps set at 2-m intervals. The lines were at right angles to the high water mark and extended beyond the inland limit of A. maritimus. Amphipods were trapped at three times of the year, in winter, spring and summer (1993–94), and the sodium content, organic content and moisture content of the soil at each trap site were measured. The sodium content of rain falling on the transects, was also measured, and lysimeters were used to assess the concentration of sodium in water penetrating the soil profile. Results 

The inland penetration of A. maritimus varied between 18 and 44 m from the seaward edge of woody terrestrial vegetation (itself <10 m horizontally from the high tide mark). Inland penetration increased from west to east around the bay, following an apparent gradient of increased exposure to onshore winds. At the most easterly and apparently most exposed site, however, the species penetrated only 18 m, but this site differed markedly from the others in its topography, caused by erosion of the dunes, with an 8-m cliff at its seaward end. The soils at this site were also unusually clayey and waterlogged. Amphipod abundance did not correlate strongly with any of the soil parameters. The salt content of rainfall generally declined inland, as did the concentration of lysimeter leachate, but the inland declines were not all smooth, and both rainfall and lysimeter leachate concentration showed some tendency to increase inland at the most sheltered site. Main conclusions 

Austrotroides maritimus is strongly restricted to the immediate coastal zone. The extent of its inland penetration correlates with exposure to onshore winds, and circumstantial evidence supports the hypothesis that this may be due to differences in the amount of salts deposited.
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Keywords: Amphipods; Talitridae; distribution; landhoppers; onshore wind; salt spray

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252-05, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia

Publication date: May 1, 2003

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