Epibiota communities of the introduced and indigenous macroalgal relatives Sargassum muticum and Halidrys siliquosa in Limfjorden (Denmark)
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
Computing, Health and Science Faculty Office
Sargassum muticum (Phaeophyceae, Fucales) has recently been introduced to Limfjorden (Denmark) where its closest relative is the indigenous Halidrys siliquosa. Previous studies have demonstrated large quantitative (canopy biomass) and qualitative (canopy persistence) differences in the habitat available to epibiota within the canopies of these two macroalgae. We therefore hypothesised that these algae would support different epibiota communities and tested this by sampling the epibiota of S. muticum and H. siliquosa on seven occasions throughout 1997 by enclosing entire thalli in mesh bags. We found 53 epibiota taxa and, with only one exception, they were all recorded on both host species. Species richness and abundance of epibiota exhibited clear seasonal variation on both host species, although epibiota biomass was seasonally constant on H. siliquosa but not on S. muticum. These patterns were consistent with the different life histories of the host species. There was a weakly negative correlation between thallus size and epibiota biomass for both host species. When taking species-specific seasonal variation in thallus size into consideration, S. muticum and H. siliquosa were found to support significantly different epibiota biomasses. Multivariate analyses showed that epibiota community structure was different, although highly overlapping, between the two species, whereas there was an almost parallel temporal development in epibiota community structure. We conclude that it is unlikely that the introduction of S. muticum to Limfjorden has caused major changes in local epibiota community structure. However, the standing stock of epibiota is likely to have increased.