The rocky intertidal zone is among the most physically harsh environments on earth. Marine invertebrates and algae living in this habitat are alternatively pounded by waves and exposed to thermal extremes during low tide periods (Denny and Wethey, 2001). Additionally, they must deal with strong selective pressures related to predation and competition for space (Connell, 1961). As a result, the steep physical gradient and spatially condensed community has made the rocky intertidal zone an ideal "natural laboratory" to study the coupled role of physical and biological factors in determining the abundance and distribution of organisms in nature (Connell, 1961; Paine, 1966, 1994).
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