Sediment load and timing of sedimentation affect spore establishment in Macrocystis pyrifera and Undaria pinnatifida
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- Geange, S.W., Powell, A., Clemens-Seely, K. et al. Mar Biol (2014) 161: 1583. doi:10.1007/s00227-014-2442-6
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Although the frequency and magnitude of sedimentation often varies across coastal landscapes creating patches with different mean sediment loads, duration of sedimentation and rates of sediment resuspension, few studies have documented the emergent effects of spatio-temporal variability in sedimentation. Here, we conducted two laboratory experiments to evaluate such effects on the establishment of Macrocystis pyrifera and Undaria pinnatifida spores. In the first experiment, spore establishment was significantly affected by sediment load (the effective dose required for a 40 % reduction in establishment ranged between 16 and 60 mg sediment l−1) and sediment regime (relative sedimentation occurring before spore settlement, ~3 times more sediment was required for 20 % reduction in spore establishment when sedimentation occurred after spore settlement). The second experiment demonstrated that the effects of sediment depended on sediment load (spore establishment was 2–4 times greater when sediment load was 200 mg l−1 relative to 400 mg l−1), variability in sedimentation (spore establishment was 1.36 times greater with variable than fixed sediment loads), repeated pulses of sedimentation (pulsed sedimentation decreased spore establishment by 59–91 % relative to a single sedimentation event) and timing of sedimentation relative to spore settlement (sedimentation before spore settlement decreased establishment by 51–95 % relative to sedimentation after spore settlement). These results have important implications for ecologists and resource managers attempting to predict the consequences of sedimentation, suggesting that it is not only important to consider sediment load, but also fine-scale temporal variability in sedimentation relative to key life-history events of the impacted organisms.