Nutrient addition to experimental rocky shore communities revisited: Delayed responses, rapid recovery

Patrik Kraufvelin, FE Moy, H Christie, TL Bokn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    Coastal eutrophication may alter the dominance patterns of marine macroalgae, with potential consequences for the associated fauna and the entire ecosystem. Benthic macroalgae and animals in control and nutrient-enriched mesocosms were monitored to investigate eutrophication-induced changes in rocky shore communities. During a 3-year project, nutrient addition had only minor effects on the community structure, such as increased cover and biomass of green Ulva spp. and increased abundance of certain animal species at high nutrient levels. This study is a 4-year extension of a previously reported project, with 2 extra years of effect studies (altogether 5 years) and a subsequent 2 years for recovery. During the 4th year of nutrient enrichment, the cover of Fucus vesiculosus and Fucus serratus started to decline. In the 5th year, these canopy species crashed and there was an evident take-over by green algae at high nutrient addition levels. The previously observed abundance stimulation for fauna disappeared later in the time series, probably due to the loss of the macroalgal canopy. After less than 2 years on regular seawater, the algal and animal communities had returned to within the range of normal variability. The results indicate that established rocky shore communities of perennial algae with associated fauna are able to persist for several years, even at very high nutrient levels, but that community shifts may suddenly occur if eutrophication continues. They also indicate that rocky shore communities have the ability to return rapidly to natural undisturbed conditions after the termination of nutrient enhancement.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)1076–1093
    Number of pages18
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • canopy algae
    • coastal eutrophication
    • green tides
    • intertidal communities
    • long-term experiment
    • mesocosm
    • nutrient enrichment
    • marine biodiversity

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