Spatial variation in juvenile and adult Ecklonia radiata (Laminariales) sporophytes
Elsevier Science BV
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of 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.