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A comparative biodiversity study of the associated fauna of perennial fucoids and filamentous algae
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany. Växtekologi.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany. Växtekologi.
2007 (English)In: Estuarine, coastal and shelf science, ISSN 0272-7714, Vol. 73, 249-258 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Anthropogenic activities worldwide have contributed to vegetation changes in many coastal areas, changes that may in turn affect faunal and algal assemblages in the involved ecosystems. In the northernmost part of the Baltic Sea the salinity is extremely low (3–4) and the only structurally complex alga present is Fucus radicans. Since in this area F. radicans is living at its salinity tolerance limit, it is potentially very sensitive to environmental changes. Any change in salinity could thus alter the overall algal community, changing it to one dominated solely by filamentous algae. To determine the importance of F. radicans to the associated faunal community, we examined differences between the two main vegetation types present, i.e., F. radicans and filamentous algae, in the Kronören marine reserve in the northernmost part of the Baltic Sea. A similar study was conducted in the Askö area in the northern Baltic Proper, where the more-investigated F. vesiculosus is the only large fucoid present. The biomass of associated fauna was significantly higher in both the F. radicans and F. vesiculosus than in the filamentous algal vegetation at some, but not all, sites. The F. radicans community also displayed a greater diversity of associated fauna in 3 of 5 investigated Kronören sites, whereas no difference in diversity was detected between F. vesiculosus and the filamentous algal vegetations in the Askö sites. Furthermore, the F. radicans community displayed a different faunal community, being the only investigated algal community with a faunal community dominated by K-strategy species, according to abundance–biomass comparison curves. This pattern may be due to the low epiphytic load on these Fucus plants. In contrast, the F. vesiculosus community, as well as the algal communities with no Fucus in both areas, had high biomasses of filamentous algae and an invertebrate fauna dominated by Chironomidae, occurring in great abundance but only a low biomass. ANOSIM analyses of faunal composition demonstrated a significant difference between the two vegetation types in both areas, largely due to greater abundance of Gammarus spp. and Theodoxus fluviatilis in the fucoid vegetation. Differences observed between the F. radicans and filamentous algal vegetation types were generally more pronounced than those between F. vesiculosus and nearby filamentous algal vegetation. These observations may be due to abiotic factors that differ between the two investigated areas, factors such as depth distribution, wave action and eutrophication level. This study has demonstrated that the less-investigated F. radicans may be as important as the larger F. vesiculosus for the associated faunal assemblages. At the same time, the limited extent of F. radicans at shallower depths makes F. radicans vegetation potentially more vulnerable to anthropogenic changes, as declines in fucoid vegetation are usually first manifested in populations at their lower depth limits, whereas shallow populations are less affected.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 73, 249-258 p.
Keyword [en]
Fucus radicans, Fucus vesiculosus, biodiversity, species composition, Baltic Sea, Baltic Proper, Bothnian Sea
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-10555DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2007.01.005ISI: 000246912800024OAI: diva2:177074
Available from: 2008-01-04 Created: 2008-01-04 Last updated: 2011-01-11Bibliographically approved

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Råberg, SonjaKautsky, Lena
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