Distribution pattern of benthic invertebrates in Danish estuaries: The use of Taylor’s power law as a species-specific indicator of dispersion and behavior

Erik Kristensen, Matthieu Delefosse, Cintia Organo Quintana, Gary Thomas Banta, Hans Christian Petersen, Bent Jørgensen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


The lack of a common statistical approach describing the distribution and dispersion pattern of marine benthic animals has often hampered the comparability among studies. The purpose of this study is therefore to apply
an alternative approach, Taylor's power law, to data on spatial and temporal distribution of 9 dominating benthic invertebrate species from two study areas, the estuaries Odense Fjord and Roskilde Fjord, Denmark. The slope (b) obtained fromthe power relationship of sample variance (s2) versusmean (μ) appears to be species-specific and independent of location and time. It ranges from a low of ~1 for large-bodied (>1 mg AFDW) species (e.g. Marenzelleria viridis, Nereis diversicolor) to a high of 1.6–1.9 for small-bodied (b1 mgAFDW) species
(e.g. Pygospio elegans and Tubificoides benedii). Accordingly, b is apparently a valuable species-specific dispersion index based on biological factors such as behavior and intraspecific interactions. Thus, at the examined spatial scale, the more intense intraspecific interactions (e.g. territoriality) cause less aggregated distribution patterns among large- than small-bodied invertebrates. The species-specific interactions seem sufficiently strong to override environmental influences (e.g. water depth and sediment type). The strong linear relationship between the slope b and intercept log(a) from the power relationship is remarkably similar for all surveys providing a common slope of−1.63 with the present sampling approach.We suggest that this relationship is an inherent characteristic of Taylor's power law, and that b as a dispersion index may be biased by e.g. sampling errorswhen this relationship is weak. The correlation strength between b and log(a) could therefore be envisioned as a data quality check.
TidsskriftJournal of Sea Research
Sider (fra-til)70-78
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 2013


  • benthic fauna
  • population biology
  • marine ecology

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