Littoral macrofauna (secondary) responses to experimental nutrient addition to rocky shore mesocosms and a coastal lagoon

Patrik Kraufvelin, H Christie, M Olsen

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    Macrofauna secondary responses to controlled eutrophication within two MARICULT/MAST-III projects, EULIT and COMWEB, are compared. EULIT utilises a nutrient gradient established in eight hard bottom mesocosms, whereas the data from COMWEB originate from a whole-ecosystem study-the case of experimental nutrient addition to Hopavagen lagoon. In both systems, nutrient addition started in May 1998, after initial studies of the background macrofauna communities, thus allowing application of Before-After-Control-Impact-Pairs techniques (BACIP). The main objectives have been to investigate the macrofauna responses to eutrophication in littoral rocky shore ecosystems and to evaluate if similar responses could occur in mesocosm and 'field' systems, despite their inherent differences. Apart from a distinct increase in numbers of Littorina littorea L. and some indications of increased abundance of the genus Jaera, no significant changes, caused by 2.5 years of nutrient addition, could be detected in the mesocosm fauna. It is interesting, however, that these two possibly stimulated animal groups have two things in common: (1) both belong to the rather few mobile taxa, which are not flushed out of the system through the mesocosm outlets, (2) both feed on microalgae and green algae in the upper littoral zone, i.e., algal groups that have shown the clearest response to the nutrient addition. In Hopavagen, 1.5 years of nutrient addition only caused modest plant and animal responses in the rocky shore ecosystem, although there was a markedly increased settlement of Mytilus edulis L. at one lagoon site. This increase was probably due to elevated levels of digestible particles (increased phytoplankton production) caused by the nutrient addition. There were also some indications of increased production of filamentous algae at this same lagoon site. All in all, both studies demonstrate only minor responses to increased nutrient levels within the littoral community (both plants and animals). One explanation to this may be that longer time-scales are needed in order for clear-cut changes to occur. Several observations also indicate that wave exposure (significant in both systems) may largely modulate the impact of increased nutrient load on the structure of littoral communities. Another explanation is the high degree of stability among littoral macroalgae-dominated communities with internal biological regulation factors (like grazing) possibly being able to counteract effects.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)149–166
    Number of pages18
    Issue number1-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2002
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • BACIP
    • coastal eutrophication
    • macrofauna
    • mesocosm
    • rocky shores
    • whole-ecosystem experiment

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