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  • The initial submission of this article was received on January 25th, 2017 and was peer-reviewed by 3 reviewers and the Academic Editor.
  • The Academic Editor made their initial decision on February 23rd, 2017.
  • The first revision was submitted on April 13th, 2017 and was reviewed by 2 reviewers and the Academic Editor.
  • A further revision was submitted on April 26th, 2017 and was reviewed by the Academic Editor.
  • The article was Accepted by the Academic Editor on April 26th, 2017.

Version 0.3 (accepted)

· Apr 26, 2017 · Academic Editor


The manuscript has been well revised, and with the new analyses from the previous version plus discussion, is ready for publication. I look forward to seeing the published version online.

Version 0.2

· Apr 22, 2017 · Academic Editor

Minor Revisions

Both reviewers find the new version of the manuscript to be much improved, with one recommending accept, and the other offering one final constructive comment. Therefore, my decision is "minor revisions".

Reviewer 1 ·

Basic reporting

The authors have taken on board the reviewers comments and ready to be published now

Experimental design

All Ok

Validity of the findings


Additional comments

I am happy for this paper to be accepted following their revisions


Basic reporting

Overall quality of writing is much improved. Minor errors in grammar and punctuation have been noted in the annotated PDF.

Experimental design

The manuscript is very much improved with regards to the transparency in experimental design. The addition of references and more detailed methods and techniques, as well as additional data analysis (i.e. SIMPER and analysis by groups in addition to overall assemblage) has greatly increased the quality of the report.

Validity of the findings

Again, the manuscript has been greatly improved. The additional figures and expanded discussion/conclusion sections demonstrate thoughtful analysis on a variety of complex hypotheses.

I highly suggest the authors look into a brief discussion on the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis, as I believe the updated data and figures are very demonstrative of this hypothesis. The hypothesis dates back to Connell (1978) and Sousa (1978 and 1984), but has been addressed extensively since then in a variety of ecosystems (i.e. plants and animals in forests and oceans). The hypothesis is generally that species diversity and other parameters associated with community assemblages are actually highest at intermediate levels of disturbance before decreasing at higher levels. Much of your data visualized in Figures 5 and 6 match this hypothesis. In particular, overall richness and biomass, as well as species richness for all three animal groups, abundance for mollusks, and biomass for mollusks and polychaetes all actually increase at an intermediate wave power and then decrease at wave powers at the lowest and highest ends of the spectrum, in a parabolic fashion. I think it would be very wise to include this observation in the manuscript with a brief discussion. The fact that in many cases the relationship between the disturbance (in this case, wave power) and the assemblages is not entirely linear is noteworthy and documented in other scientific literature.

Version 0.1 (original submission)

· Feb 23, 2017 · Academic Editor

Major Revisions

I have heard back from three experts, all of whom recommended major revisions. Looking over their comments, while each reviewer has focused on some different areas (with some overlapping comments), it is clear that 1) the English needs strict editing, and 2) much more detail is needed throughout the manuscript. My decision is "major revisions" and these revisions will take likely much work and time - I wish you good luck and look forward to seeing a revised version.

Reviewer 1 ·

Basic reporting

Some of the English needs to be modified
For example

Abstract line 38- replace propagate
Line 39 define coastal societies what does this mean ??
More field background should be given – such as seawater temperature , air temperature
Field sampling so unclear as to whether the additional sampling (lines 100-103) in addition to those listed line 94
Lines 202- 213 would be helpful to include location of these studies -- ie tropical
Line 222 what does this mean ??
Line 226 please explain your definition of ecosystem services to coastal communities

Experimental design

not clear if Field sampling Lines 93 to lines 95 was then supplemented by sampling during storm events ( Lines 100-103)

species lists not supplied

Validity of the findings

limited and data needs to be re-analysed

Additional comments

I do not think the paper is ready for publication

more explanation of the supposed results needs to be given and put into a better context with other studies

Reviewer 2 ·

Basic reporting

PeerJ is catered to a large number of disciplines, and therefore not all readers may be familiar with some of the scientific terms of this particular field. I recommend briefly defining, in simple terms, any important terms used throughout the manuscript (i.e. what differentiates beta diversity from other diversity measures). Author should also specify what units were used to measure each variable, and include common names of any species referenced.

Manuscript would benefit from a clear and concise “Conclusion” section at the end to summarize the critical findings of the research.

Figures are clear and relevant, but are not be the best representation of the data, or additional figures would be beneficial. I suggest the author consider an nMDS plot (this would illustrate differences in species assemblages between sampling events).

I recommend including PERMDISP results/ P values in the figure descriptions or otherwise indicating which elements in the figure are statistically significant.

The raw data supplied needs additional information. The “names” tab should also include the units used to measure each variable. I also recommend an additional tab that describes the taxonomy of each species identified from the samples (what phylum do they belong to? Which species are mollusks, crustaceans, and polychaetes? Also include common names).

Experimental design

Experimental design seems clear and straightforward, and hypotheses are well defined, though I recommend adding citations or additional justification to provide background as to how the hypotheses were developed. What scientific evidence or supporting research led to the formation of those particular hypotheses? What is the basis for those predictions?

Some of the sampling and analysis methods require additional details or references. As is, the technique used for the specified methods is very vague. These are identified in the annotated PDF.

I believe it would also be worthwhile to consider how different types of species (mollusks, crustaceans, and polychaetes) respond to storm events, in addition to biomass, richness, and diversity. It is mentioned in the discussion that mobile and sessile species may have different responses, and looking at the data by phylum could strengthen this discussion, though I realize this was not necessarily part of the intended scope of the paper.

Validity of the findings

Results would benefit from a descriptive summary of the data before presenting results for each individual hypothesis. Summary could be a narrative description detailing general findings just to provide additional background to the reader - what was the variety of species identified in the study? What is the average or range of grain sizes at the sample sites? Give a general description of the data before it was analyzed.

Results and discussion are appropriate for the original four hypotheses and the experimental design on which they were based, but I encourage use of additional statistical analysis.

PERMANOVA should also be considered in the statistical analysis in addition to PERMDISP. PERMDISP is designed to evaluate variability within groups/sampling events, while PERMANOVA evaluates variability between groups/sampling events. Results of PERMANOVA and PERMDISP can be used together to better identify what contributes to the source of any significant differences between diversity at different sampling events.

Also recommend SIMPER analysis, which can determine which species are responsible for the differences in species assemblages or diversity between sampling events. This analysis could provide data to support the discussion that begins on line 186.

PERMANOVA and SIMPER are available in the PERMANOVA+ add-on package for the PRIMER-E statistical analysis program.


Basic reporting

The usage of English is deficient. Some literature background is lacking. The article is well-structured, but for me, the results are too schematic and it is not evident how they support the postulated hypothesis.

Experimental design

The manuscript lacks relevant information in the methods section. For instance, there is no information on how the ß diversity is estimated both for edimentary paramenters and macrofauna. Some other variables could have been helpful to support the results, such as the redox potential and the pore water content of the sediments (as a measure of their possible disturbance)

Validity of the findings

The discusion needs to be reorganised to better highlight the relevence of the obtained results within the frame of the previously existing knowledge. As it is, it looks caothic. It is unclear whether they distinguish between sandy, exposed or protected beaches, which ones are better known, and which ones require furhter efforts.

Additional comments

The paper needs more work to be acceptable for publication. In my opinion, the information provided is too limited to follow the authors reasoning. The environment and the assemblages need to be described prior to try to demonstrate they are changing due to the influence of the storms. Lacking a correct decription of the environment and the assomblages found in the studied beach, it is not easy (or even possible) to correctly follow the authors reasonings.

Detailed comments are included in the manuscript.

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