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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 387:125-136 (2009)  -  DOI:

Host taxonomic relatedness and functional-group affiliation as predictors of seaweed–invertebrate epifaunal associations

Colin R. Bates*

Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, 100 Pachena Road, Bamfield, British Columbia V0R 1B0, Canada** and Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Room 3529, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada
**Email: **Preferred address for mail correspondence

ABSTRACT: To test the efficacy of seaweed taxonomic relatedness and morphological/functional-group membership as predictors of host-use by invertebrate epifauna, I sampled invertebrate assemblages associated with 1652 individual thalli across 32 species of seaweed. Additionally, I tested whether seaweeds within the same functional group had the potential, in the context of species loss, to functionally replace each other as habitat. In total, I found 54776 individuals across 98 taxa of invertebrates. Similarity of invertebrate assemblages did not decrease as taxonomic distances between seaweed hosts increased; invertebrate assemblages were as different on sibling algal species as on hosts classified in different kingdoms. The utility of seaweeds as hosts for mobile invertebrates varied across components of invertebrate diversity. Invertebrate assemblage composition was different across most algal functional groups, whereas invertebrate taxon richness was different for ca. 25% of functional groups, and no differences in invertebrate abundance across algal functional groups were observed. There was substantial variation in host-use within seaweed functional groups, suggesting that overall functional group performance indicates little about the performance of the constituent species. Specifically, composition, richness and abundance of invertebrate assemblages were different across most hosts within each algal functional group. Therefore, in the event of seaweed species loss, replacements by members of the same functional group generally appear unlikely. These observations bring into question the use of general frameworks for predicting performance of seaweeds as hosts for associated invertebrates; it appears that invertebrate selection of seaweed hosts is largely dependent upon the identity of the host species.

KEY WORDS: Seaweed · Invertebrate · Habitat · Taxonomic relatedness · Functional groups

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Cite this article as: Bates CR (2009) Host taxonomic relatedness and functional-group affiliation as predictors of seaweed–invertebrate epifaunal associations. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 387:125-136.

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