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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 511:59-70 (2014)  -  DOI:

Effects of algal turfs and sediment accumulation on replenishment and primary productivity of fucoid assemblages

T. Alestra1,*, L. W. Tait2, D. R. Schiel1

1Marine Ecology Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8041, New Zealand
2National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), 10 Kyle Street, PO Box 8062, Riccarton, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand
*‑Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: As a result of anthropogenic habitat degradation worldwide, coastal ecosystems are increasingly dominated by low-lying, turf-forming species, which proliferate at the expense of complex biogenic habitats such as kelp and fucoid canopies. This results in dramatic alterations to the structure of the associated communities and large reductions in primary productivity. The persistence of turf-dominated systems has been attributed to the impacts of the turfs on the recovery of algal canopies and also to the different susceptibility of canopy- and turf-forming algae to altered physical conditions, in particular increased sedimentation. Here we tested the impacts of turfing geniculate coralline algae and sediment on fucoid recovery dynamics and their influence on assemblage net primary productivity (NPP). The recruitment of the habitat-forming fucoid Hormosira banksii on bare substrata was significantly higher than in treatments in which sediments, coralline turfs or turf mimics covered the substratum, indicating that sediment deposition and space pre-emption by algal turfs can synergistically affect the development of fucoid beds. NPP of coralline turfs was much lower than that of fucoid-coralline assemblages, which included a H. banksii canopy, and was reduced further by sediment accumulation. When devoid of sediment, however, coralline algae contributed to enhance fucoid-coralline assemblage NPP, because of synergistic interactions among the components of the multi-layered assemblage in optimizing light use. Our findings amplify extensive research addressing the global loss of macroalgal canopies and highlight key processes involving sediment accumulation in the benthic environment and effects on the replenishment and productivity of fucoid stands.

KEY WORDS: Canopy · Coralline algae · Habitat structure · Intertidal · Macroalgae · Photosynthesis · Sediment · Turf-forming

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Cite this article as: Alestra T, Tait LW, Schiel DR (2014) Effects of algal turfs and sediment accumulation on replenishment and primary productivity of fucoid assemblages. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 511:59-70.

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