Spatial variation in juvenile and adult Ecklonia radiata (Laminariales) sporophytes
Elsevier Science BV
Computing, Health and Science
Natural Sciences, Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research
Juvenile and adult sporophytes of Ecklonia radiata were counted on in-shore and off-shore reefs at Marmion (Perth, Western Australia), across spatial scales of kilometres, 10s of metres and metres. The position on in-shore reefs vs. off-shore reefs did not influence recruit and adult kelp density. There was considerable site-to-site (kilometres) variation in densities of recruits but not adults. The majority of variation in both recruit and adult densities was found between quadrats separated by a few metres. There was no relationship between abundance of recruits and abundance of adult sporophytes at any of the spatial levels of investigation, suggesting a decoupling of recruitment and canopy processes. The results emphasise the patchy nature of kelp canopy distribution and suggest that relatively small-scale processes, acting on scales of a few metres, are of primary importance in generating heterogeneity in the canopy of these kelps.