MEPS 354:305-309 (2008)  -  doi:10.3354/meps07242

Zostera marina seagrass beds enhance the attachment of the invasive alga Sargassum muticum in soft sediments

James R. Tweedley, Emma L. Jackson, Martin J. Attrill*

Marine Biology & Ecology Research Centre, Marine Institute & School of Biological Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: The first reports of Sargassum muticum occurring in British waters coincided with a warning that this invasive alga may replace seagrass beds, particularly those of Zostera marina. Initial fears were allayed when subsequent research suggested that both species required different attachment substrata, and, therefore, S. muticum would be unable to replace Zostera beds on soft sediments. Here, however, we present evidence supporting the original warning: contrary to previous research we found that S. muticum is able to successfully colonise soft sediments and, furthermore, that the presence of Z. marina may aid attachment. The majority of S. muticum plants within Zostera beds studied at Salcombe, SW England, were found attached within the soft sediment; outside of the seagrass bed, however, this occurred in greatly reduced numbers. Therefore, we suggest that the presence of Z. marina may actually enhance S. muticum colonization of soft sediments, trapping drifting fragments and allowing viable algae to settle on the seagrass matrix in an otherwise unfavorable environment. The consequences for the invasion of seagrass beds by S. muticum may therefore be more severe than previously thought.


KEY WORDS: Sargassum muticum · Seagrass · Invasive alga · Zostera marina · Soft sediment


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Cite this article as: Tweedley JR, Jackson EL, Attrill MJ (2008) Zostera marina seagrass beds enhance the attachment of the invasive alga Sargassum muticum in soft sediments. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 354:305-309

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