p. 211-223It was proposed that predation could explain differences in the structure of the benthic macrofaunal assemblages in subtidal sandy sediments close to compared with those far from rocky reefs. This hypothesis was tested using experimental exclusion cages and partial cages at two sites at two distances at two different rocky reefs. Undisturbed uncaged assemblages of macrofauna close to the rocky reefs were generally different from those in the partial cages and full cages. However, caging artifacts could not be detected and there were no strong correlations between the macrofauna and the proportions of different grain size and organic content. The structure of the macrofaunal assemblages close to the rocky reefs was, nevertheless, different from those far from the reefs and the sediments were finer far from than close to the rocky reefs. The results indicated that factors other than predation or grain size caused the differences in the macrofauna. For the spatial and temporal scales used in this study, it was clear that, although predation maybe intense, on its own it cannot explain the differences in the structure of the assemblages close and far from rocky reefs. The importance of adequate replication on caging experiments is discussed and it is suggested that alternative ways need to be found to test predictions about the influence of predation on soft sediment benthic assemblages
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