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Some biological interactions affecting intertidal populations of the kelp Egregia laevigata


Near Santa Barbara, California (USA), the large laminarian kelp Egregia laevigata (Setchell) occurred from the lower intertidal zone to subtidal depths. In the intertidal zone there was a large recruitment of E. laevigata in the spring. The kelp were largely excluded from a zone in the lowest intertidal zone where the surf grass Phyllospadix sp, grew, but were abundant on all other rock surfaces. Experiments demonstrated that, while neither grazers nor sessile organisms significantly reduced recruitment, E. laevigata of the previous year-class did so. There were also interactions among E. laevigata of the same year-class, expressed as a density-dependent mortality of very small algae, and as faster growth rates and greater number of branches of kelp at low densities. These processes tended to make both numbers and biomass of E. laevigata uniform. The mortality rates of large E. laevigata were so high that, in some locations, no kelp survived for more than 8 months. E. laevigata was, therefore, essentially an annual and opportunistic species in the intertidal zone.

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Communicated by T.R. Parsons, Vancouver

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Black, R. Some biological interactions affecting intertidal populations of the kelp Egregia laevigata . Mar. Biol. 28, 189–198 (1974).

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  • Biomass
  • Growth Rate
  • Mortality Rate
  • Fast Growth
  • Intertidal Zone