Out of long, long, consideration of the parts he [Darwin] emerged with a sense of the whole. Where we wished for a month on station, and took two days, Darwin stayed three months. Of course, he could see and tabulate. It was the pace that made the difference, and in the writing of Darwin, as in his thinking, there is this slow heave of a sailing ship, and the patience of waiting for a tide.
– Steinbeck speaking of Darwin, in the Sea of Cortez, 1941.
In the California marine intertidal we have prominent rockweeds and turfweeds that arrogate broad swaths of rock surface, preventing other species from settling in the space they occupy, and often becoming the predominant species in an intertidal community. We have wondered how long the intertidal has been overrun by these marine algae, and how settlement could be accomplished by animals when so much space is taken by “weeds.”
At the same time our surveys presented this abundance of plants, we found an apparent lack of biodiversity at sites where one or more of several species ̶ barnacles, mussels, sea stars, shore crabs, and sea urchins ̶ appeared absent from the intertidal community, and whether biodiversity is impacted by this rank population of algae. Continue reading Weeds in the Intertidal Garden