The shore environments of most sub-Antarctic islands have been described in a number of previous studies. However, there have been few attempts to quantify the variation in population and community patterns over different spatial scales. The objectives of this study were to provide an analysis of differences in the community structure of the biota of three exposed shore zones and of the macrofauna inhabiting holdfasts of the kelp Durvillaea antarctica across spatial scales of hundreds of metres, kilometres, and between a sheltered and exposed coast. Data were collected using a combination of quadrat, transect and direct sampling methods over the 1994–95 summer season. The results indicated that there were significant differences between coasts for some of the biotic variables in most of the habitats examined but that differences at the smaller spatial scales were more often significant. Thus, although wave exposure exerts an obvious effect on the shore biota of Macquarie Island, these effects are modified by other factors operating at smaller spatial scales. For the holdfast macrofauna, the overall patterns of community structure are likely to be due to the differential response of the component taxa to variation in holdfast volume and holdfast sediment content as well as other, currently undetermined factors.
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