Biomass, diversity and production of rocky shore macroalgae at two nutrient enrichment and wave action levels

Patrik Kraufvelin, A Lindholm, MF Pedersen, LA Kirkerud, Erik Bonsdorff

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66 Citations (Scopus)


The littoral zone of temperate rocky shores is normally dominated by perennial macroalgae (e.g. Fucus, Ascophyllum, Laminaria), but nutrient enrichment and/or permanently decreased wave action may lead to structural community changes from dominance of perennials to increased amounts of annual opportunistic species (mainly green algae). Macroalgal biomass, diversity and production as well as relationships between the two latter were studied using Solbergstrand's rocky shore mesocosms in SE Norway in connection with a long-term experimental manipulation of nutrient addition and wave action (high and low levels of both factors applied in a crossed way to eight outdoor basins). After more than 2 years of experimental treatment, the total standing stock of macroalgae was larger in low nutrient than in high nutrient treatments as well as in high wave compared to low wave treatments (in autumn only). For macroalgal functional groups, bushy and filamentous brown and filamentous red algae were generally favoured by low nutrient concentrations, while annual filamentous and sheet-like green algae were stimulated by the nutrient enrichment. There was only one significant interaction between nutrient enrichment and wave action (for brown filamentous algae in autumn) and also only one significant main effect of the wave treatment (for bushy brown algae in autumn). Surprisingly, the high nutrient treatments supported a higher diversity of macroalgae, whereas the low nutrient treatments generally showed higher production rates. Moreover, significantly negative correlations were found between macroalgal diversity and primary productivity in both summer and autumn. This study shows that it is the biological components of the communities subjected to external forcing (nutrient addition or decreased wave action) that regulate production and this contradicts the common misperception that resource production in natural systems simply can be fast-forwarded by fertilization. The negative relationships between diversity and productivity, although a consequence of unexpected results for diversity and production, are also novel and hint towards species identities having more important functional consequences than general species dominance patterns and the amount of species per se. These results also emphasise the context dependency of findings within the field of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)29–47
Number of pages19
JournalMarine Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2010
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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