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Patch size and density of canopy-forming kelp modify influences of ecosystem engineering on understorey algal and sessile invertebrate assemblages


Shelamoff, V and Layton, C and Tatsumi, M and Cameron, MJ and Wright, JT and Johnson, CR, Patch size and density of canopy-forming kelp modify influences of ecosystem engineering on understorey algal and sessile invertebrate assemblages, Marine Ecology - Progress Series, 632 pp. 59-79. ISSN 0171-8630 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Available from 13 December 2024

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 Inter-Research

DOI: doi:10.3354/meps13155


ABSTRACT: Ecosystem engineers are important in shaping the composition of associated communities, including the abundance of species which exert additional influences on the ecosystem. Using an array of 28 artificial reefs supporting transplants of a dominant canopy-forming kelp (Ecklonia radiata) representing 7 patch sizes (0.12-7.68 m2) crossed with 4 kelp densities (0-16 ind. m-2), we determined how differences in the patch size and density of this ecosystem engineer influenced the associated understorey assemblages, including the abundance of turf algae, foliose algae and sessile invertebrates. We then determined how abiotic and biotic factors modified by E. radiata related to the abundance of these functional groups and E. radiata recruitment. Decreasing patch size and absence of kelp led to the proliferation of turfs, whilst foliose algae and invertebrates were dominant on larger reefs with kelp, where intermediate densities of kelp supported the highest abundance of foliose algae. We postulate that benthic light was the most important factor positively influencing turf cover, which in turn suppressed foliose algae. Adverse effects of light and sediment deposition best explained the cover of invertebrates. Contrary to expectation, understorey species had little effect on the density of E. radiata recruits, which instead was strongly correlated with the abundance of transplanted kelp on each reef. These results highlight the capacity of E. radiata to influence major functional groups within the sub-canopy via abiotic ecosystem engineering and through control of turfs and indicate that the negative effect of understorey algae on kelp recruitment may be context specific.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:turf algae, foliose algae, recruitment, ecosystem engineer, foliose algae, kelp, understorey, recruitment, sessile invertebrate, turf algae, Ecklonia radiata
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Coastal or estuarine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Shelamoff, V (Mr Victor Shelamoff)
UTAS Author:Layton, C (Dr Cayne Layton)
UTAS Author:Tatsumi, M (Mr Masayuki Tatsumi)
UTAS Author:Cameron, MJ (Mr Matthew Cameron)
UTAS Author:Wright, JT (Associate Professor Jeffrey Wright)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CR (Professor Craig Johnson)
ID Code:137297
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2020-02-07
Last Modified:2020-03-23

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