The effect of patch isolation on epifaunal colonization in two different seagrass ecosystems
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The macrofaunal colonization of isolated habitats is affected by many factors, ranging from distance to the nearest source population to the dispersal mechanism of the species. We investigated the initial epifaunal colonization at two sites, one situated in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and the other in the Northern Baltic Sea. At each site, artificial seagrass units were placed at 10- and 20-m distances from a continuous seagrass meadow, as well as inside the meadow over a 5-day colonization time. With the exception of amphipods in Gulf of Mexico, patch isolation had a negative effect on colonization for the other faunal species, irrespective of the sites. This inverse colonization pattern of amphipods suggests that they are not equally sensitive to patch isolation in different regions. Our results indicate that increasing habitat isolation can have serious consequences for the community composition of seagrass epifauna. Furthermore, we emphasize the need for larger-scale latitudinal comparative studies.
KeywordsShoot Density Distance Treatment Seagrass Habitat Patch Isolation Seagrass Ecosystem
We thank the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, USA, and Husö Biological Station, Finland, for working facilities. We are grateful to K. Heck, J. Mattila and C. Boström for comments on earlier versions of the manuscript and two anonymous reviewers for their commentary. We also thank K. O’Brien for language revision. K. Heck, J. Mattila, E. Money, M. Ajemian and C. Boström are thanked for their assistance in the field. The study was funded by the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation (CG). Travels were funded by Åbo Akademi University (TS).
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