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AB 33:33-45 (2024)  -  DOI:

Kelp holdfasts in the Great African Seaforest provide habitat for diverse assemblages of macroinvertebrates

Chaitanya Katharoyan1, Nasreen Peer1,*, Jannes Landschoff1,2, Charles L Griffiths3, Toufiek Samaai3,4,5,6, Danné Beeslaar1

1Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa
2Sea Change Project, Sea Change Trust, 6 Buxton Avenue, Oranjezicht 8001, Cape Town, South Africa
3Marine Research Institute and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
4Marine Biodiversity and Coastal Research, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Foretrust Building, Foreshore, Cape Town 8001, South Africa
5Biodiversity and Conservation Department, University of the Western Cape, Bellville 7493, South Africa
6Marine Research and Exhibitions Department, Iziko Museums of South Africa, Cape Town 8001, South Africa
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Kelp forests along the southwestern and west coasts of South Africa, dominated by the species Ecklonia maxima and Laminaria pallida, are locally termed ‘the Great African Seaforest’. They form 3-dimensional biogenic habitats that provide 4 distinct microhabitats—canopy, fronds, stipe and holdfast—with the latter typically supporting the highest abundance and diversity of associated macroinvertebrates. The macrofauna inhabiting kelp holdfasts in South Africa have rarely been studied, resulting in a near complete lack of baseline data. In this study, macrobenthic assemblages from 40 E. maxima holdfasts were examined over 2 marine ecoregions and 4 locations. Macroinvertebrates were identified and counted for univariate and multivariate analyses using family-level data. A total of 120 families from 9 phyla were identified and were generally dominated by Arthropoda (48 families), Annelida (24 families) and Mollusca (23 families). Marine ecoregion had no significant effect on composition of macroinvertebrate assemblages, whereas location had a significant effect. There was no significant relationship between holdfast volume and macroinvertebrate diversity or abundance, suggesting that other environmental and physicochemical factors are important in determining community structure. This study serves as a baseline for future research aimed at understudied holdfast macroinvertebrate communities in the Great African Seaforest.

KEY WORDS: Ecklonia maxima · Biodiversity · Kelp forest · South Africa · Taxonomy · Community structure · Ecoregions

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Cite this article as: Katharoyan C, Peer N, Landschoff J, Griffiths CL, Samaai T, Beeslaar D (2024) Kelp holdfasts in the Great African Seaforest provide habitat for diverse assemblages of macroinvertebrates. Aquat Biol 33:33-45.

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