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Ecosystem engineering kelp limits recruitment of mussels and microphytobenthic algae


Shelamoff, V and Umanzor, S and Layton, C and Tatsumi, M and Cameron, MJ and Wright, JT and Johnson, CR, Ecosystem engineering kelp limits recruitment of mussels and microphytobenthic algae, Marine Biology, 169 Article 85. ISSN 0025-3162 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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2022 The Author(s). Attribution 4.0 International This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. (

DOI: doi:10.1007/s00227-022-04072-5


Ecosystem engineers often exert strong effects on the recruitment of other species through modification of the local abiotic and biotic environment. In 2015, artificial reefs in eastern Tasmania (-42.64693, 148.01481) spanning seven different patch sizes (0.12-7.68 m2) and supporting four densities of transplanted kelp (Ecklonia radiata at 0, 4.1, 8.2 and 16.4 kelp m-2) were used to determine how the patch size and density of this ecosystem engineer influenced the recruitment of microphytobenthic (MPB) algae, and a secondary ecosystem engineer, the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis. Increasing kelp density and patch size inhibited the establishment of subcanopy MPB algae on settlement slides and reduced the recruitment of mussels in standardised rope fibre habitats (RFHs). The productivity:biomass ratio (P:B) of mussel recruits tended to be lower on small reefs and reefs without kelp, relative to larger reefs with high densities of kelp. Canopy shading and reduced cover of turf algae appeared to negatively impact the recruitment of MPB algae and mussels, whilst reduced sediment accumulation on the reefs due to the kelp was also negatively associated with mussel recruitment. These findings highlight the role of ecosystem engineering by kelp in inhibiting the establishment of other species which may additionally impact community dynamics and primary and secondary productivity. The limited capacity of small kelp patches to inhibit the recruitment of other organisms supports the notion that fragmented patches of ecosystem engineers could be more suspectable to adverse outcomes from species interactions making them less resistant to shifts towards an alternative ecosystem state.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:kelp, mussel, restoration, microphytobenthic algae, artificial reef, shellfish, eco-engineering, patch dynamics, fragmentation
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Ecosystem function
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:152509
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2022-08-19
Last Modified:2022-11-21
Downloads:4 View Download Statistics

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