Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description. The rock substrate of the rocky benthic or bottom zone is one of the most important factors in determining the abundance, variety, and distribution of organisms. The stability of the bottom allows a rich assemblage of plants and animals to develop. Rock Bottoms are usually high-energy habitats with well-aerated waters. Temperature, salinity, current, and light penetration are also important factors in determining the composition of the benthic community. Animals that live on the rocky surface are generally firmly attached by hooking or sucking devices, although they may occasionally move about over the substrate. Some may be permanently attached by cement. A few animals hide in rocky crevices and under rocks, some move rapidly enough to avoid being swept away, and others burrow into the finer substrates between boulders. Plants are also firmly attached (e.g., by hold-fasts), and in the Riverine System both plants and animals are commonly streamlined or flattened in response to high water velocities.
Subclasses and Dominance Types.
Dominance Types for Rock Bottoms in the Marine and Estuarine Systems were taken primarily from Smith (1964) and Ricketts and Calvin (1968), and those for Rock Bottoms in the Lacustrine, Riverine, and Palustrine Systems from Krecker and Lancaster (1933), Stehr and Branson (1938), Ward and Whipple (1959), Clarke (1973), Hart and Fuller (1974), Ward (1975), Slack et al. (1977), and Pennak (1978).