The rocky intertidal zone has been a stronghold for ecological research, and the success of intertidal experiments stems in part from the fact that intertidal assemblages are often comprised of the few species that are able to survive the environmental variation associated with the cycling of tides. In addition, many resident intertidal species are small, common, and slow moving or fixed in one place. Thus rocky intertidal shores historically appeared as simple, well-defined habitats in which easily observed and manipulated local interactions control the dynamics of the assemblages. Such initial appearances, however, have been deceiving, and variation in recruitment of offspring from the plankton, a characteristic of many marine species, has stimulated an increased appreciation of the role of oceanographic conditions.
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