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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Pelagic Sargassum contributes structural habitat to the surface waters of the tropical and subtropical Atlantic Ocean. Photo: Victoria J. Coles

Brooks MT, Coles VJ, Hood RR, Gower JFR


Factors controlling the seasonal distribution of pelagic Sargassum

Pelagic Sargassum provides the foundation for a diverse ecosystem in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic Ocean. Although these floating rafts of macroalgae are advected with ocean currents, models of Sargassum require more than physical circulation to accurately match observations. Advective control of the Sargassum distribution is strongest in months with poor growing conditions, such as stratified water columns or low temperatures. In months with favorable growing conditions, Sargassum growth is more important in setting its spatial distribution. Brooks and co-authors modeled the connectivity of Sargassum throughout its range, and found that biomass in the Gulf of Mexico and Western tropics disproportionately influences the basin-wide distribution.


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