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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 628:55-71 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13096

Variability in stable isotope values of South African Laminariales, Ecklonia maxima and Laminaria pallida, over different spatial and temporal scales

David C. Dyer1,*, Mike J. Butler2, Albertus J. Smit3,4, Robert J. Anderson1,5, John J. Bolton1

1Biological Sciences Department, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa
2Environmental Isotope Laboratory, iThemba LABS, Private Bag 11, WITS, Johannesburg, 2050, South Africa
3Biodiversity and Conservation Biology Programme, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville, 7535, South Africa
4South African Environmental Observation Network, Elwandle Coastal Node, Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa
5African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience, Nelson Mandela University, PO Box 77000, Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Kelp forests are some of the most productive habitats in the oceans, supporting diverse, ecologically, and often commercially, important ecosystems. This study of 8 geographically separate sites in 2 seasons highlights the natural variability of stable isotope values (δ13C and δ15N), at different spatial and temporal scales, within the 2 dominant kelp species along the west coast of South Africa. Additionally, stable isotope variability was investigated within and among different tissues within both kelp species. Within a kelp plant, δ13C values had a variance of 1.7‰ for Ecklonia maxima and 1.5‰ for Laminaria pallida. The δ15N values had a variance of 3.8‰ for E. maxima and 4.2‰ for L. pallida. There were also consistent variability patterns along the length of a single frond in both species, for both isotopes. Among the localities, E. maxima and L. pallida were highly variable with variances in δ13C (9.4‰ and 11.2‰) and δ15N (3.4‰ and 4.5‰) for the 2 species respectively. The δ13C values of L. pallida and E. maxima displayed a clear pattern coinciding with depth, particularly for L. pallida. Within-site variability was a major contributor to the overall spatial variability for both species. This study provides further evidence for the importance of understanding basal variability of stable isotope values when determining the carbon sources of bottom-up controlled ecosystems.


KEY WORDS: δ13C · δ15N · Laminariales · South Africa


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Cite this article as: Dyer DC, Butler MJ, Smit AJ, Anderson RJ, Bolton JJ (2019) Variability in stable isotope values of South African Laminariales, Ecklonia maxima and Laminaria pallida, over different spatial and temporal scales. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 628:55-71. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13096

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