Spatial variation in the structure of overwintering, remnant Saccorhiza polyschides sporophytes and their associated assemblages

Salland, Nora and Smale, DA 2021 Spatial variation in the structure of overwintering, remnant Saccorhiza polyschides sporophytes and their associated assemblages. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 101 (4). 639-648.

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Understanding the structure and richness of natural communities is a fundamental goal of marine ecology, and foundation species such as large macroalgae have a disproportionate role in structuring biodiversity. However, high-resolution information on assemblages associated with macroalgae is lacking for many species and regions. Saccorhiza polyschides is a warm-temperate kelp with a relatively short lifespan (12–18 months), large thallus and bulbous holdfast offering habitat for diverse assemblages. In the UK, S. polyschides populations are thought to have proliferated recently. Here, we quantified the density and habitat structure provided by S. polyschides along a gradient of wave exposure within Plymouth Sound, and examined the composition and diversity of associated faunal assemblages. Density varied significantly between sites but not by wave exposure, while biometric measurements were generally highly variable. Senescing holdfasts from sporophytes offered valuable habitat, with high abundance and richness of associated assemblages, although these varied markedly between sporophytes and sites. Faunal abundance, taxon richness and diversity were significantly higher at fully exposed sites than at moderately exposed sites. Internal volume of holdfasts was positively correlated with faunal abundance and taxon richness. We recorded more than 27 distinct taxa and up to ~600 individuals within a single holdfast. Taxa included three fish species, including a novel observation of the pipefish Nerophis lumbriciformis. Further work is needed to examine seasonality in habitat structure and associated diversity patterns but our study demonstrates that even remnant holdfasts from decaying sporophytes represent a valuable microhabitat that may provide shelter, protection and food during winter.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: foundation species;holdfast assemblages;kelp communities;microhabitat;nerophis lumbriciformis;nursery ground;pipefish;saccorhiza polyschides
Subjects: Marine Sciences
Divisions: Marine Biological Association of the UK > Other (MBA)
Depositing User: Tamar Atkinson
Date made live: 08 Feb 2022 16:34
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2024 16:57

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