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Aquaculture Environment Interactions

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AEI 13:225-236 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00403

Reduced physiological performance in a free-living coralline alga induced by salmon faeces deposition

Erwann Legrand1,*, Tina Kutti1, Erika V. Gonzalez Casal1, Samuel P. S. Rastrick1, Sissel Andersen2, Vivian Husa1

1Institute of Marine Research, Nordnesgaten 50, 5005, Bergen, Norway
2Institute of Marine Research, Austevoll Research Station, 5392 Storebø, Norway
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Maerl beds are formed by the accumulation of free-living coralline algae and have considerable ecological significance due to the high diversity of associated fauna and flora. The rapid expansion of the Atlantic salmon Salmo salar aquaculture industry in Norway may have major impacts on surrounding maerl beds through the release of effluents, including fish faeces. This study is the first to test the effects of salmon faeces and inorganic sediment deposition on the photosynthesis, respiration, calcification and pigment content of the coralline alga Lithothamnion soriferum. In a 6 wk laboratory experiment, inorganic sediment and salmon faeces deposition significantly reduced the amount of light reaching the surface of coralline algae. No impact of inorganic sediment deposition was detected on L. soriferum physiology, while salmon faeces deposition increased respiration rate and reduced net primary production and calcification. The accumulation of salmon faeces stimulates proliferation of bacteria, with adverse consequences on L. soriferum physiology due to the potential release of toxic compounds. Burial by salmon faeces deposition also affects the physiology of coralline algae due to the flocculation of sticky faeces particles, which may limit nutrient and gas exchanges in the vicinity of thalli. Carbon dioxide accumulation in the vicinity of L. soriferum may lead to a decline in pH and alter the calcification process in cell walls. In natural maerl beds, the negative effect of faeces deposition may be exacerbated by longer-term exposure and the presence of other chemicals released by fish farms.


KEY WORDS: Salmon faeces · Coralline algae · Photosynthesis · Calcification · Inorganic sediment · Maerl · Lithothamnion soriferum


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Cite this article as: Legrand E, Kutti T, Gonzalez Casal EV, Rastrick SPS, Andersen S, Husa V (2021) Reduced physiological performance in a free-living coralline alga induced by salmon faeces deposition. Aquacult Environ Interact 13:225-236. https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00403

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