Long-term decline and recent recovery of Fucus populations along the rocky shores of southeast Sweden, Baltic Sea
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- Nilsson, J., Engkvist, R. & Persson, LE. Aquatic Ecology (2004) 38: 587. doi:10.1007/s10452-004-5665-7
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The Fucus populations on rocky shores along 300 km of the coastal waters of southeast Sweden in the Baltic proper have been studied since 1984 at a number of fixed sites as part of monitoring programmes. This paper describes changes in distribution and abundance of F. vesiculosus and F. serratus during the period 1984–2001. Sheltered sites showed a consistent temporal and spatial pattern of Fucus spp. distribution over a coastline of 300 kilometres. The depth penetration and abundance of Fucus spp. increased during the 1980s. Around 1990 the development reversed as a consequence of grazing and in 1997 many sites were almost devoid of Fucus spp. Since 1998 both abundance and depth penetration have increased again, possibly as a result of local measures against eutrophication. Exposed sites, on the other hand, lost their Fucus populations at the beginning of the 1990s, and they have not recovered. Extended field studies lead us to deduce that the fixed sites referred to above were representative of the Fucus populations in the area investigated. Major declines, both at sheltered and exposed sites, are attributed to grazing by the isopod Idotea baltica. The populations of I. baltica may have been favoured by the continuing eutrophication of the Baltic, a series of mild winters in the 1990s, and a contemporary decline in some potential predators.