Marine Biology

, 163:32 | Cite as

Spatial synchrony of amphipods in giant kelp forests

  • Dana N. Morton
  • Tom W. Bell
  • Todd W. Anderson
Original paper


Amphipods are abundant in marine ecosystems worldwide and are important as prey and as consumers of macrophytes and detritus in food webs. Due to the spatially complex and dynamic nature of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) forests, assessment of the abundances of giant kelp and amphipods through time and space should provide insight into their potential interactions within the system. In an extensive field study within the surface canopy of giant kelp, the abundance of amphipods was quantified on artificial substrates at an array of 18 sites within kelp forests along Point Loma, California, USA, from July to October 2009 and 2010. Biomass of giant kelp canopy was estimated using remotely sensed imagery, and the spatial synchrony (autocorrelation through time) of kelp canopy was compared with synchrony of caprellid and non-caprellid amphipods. Caprellids exhibited high spatial synchrony that did not decrease with distance, while non-caprellids were synchronous on local scales, indicating high spatial heterogeneity in abundance through time. Gammarids showed a rapid exponential decrease in synchrony within the first 550 m that was consistent with synchrony of giant kelp. This suggests a local-scale biotic link between non-caprellids and giant kelp canopy, whereas caprellid synchrony is more likely to be influenced by regional-scale environmental variables. Caprellids and other amphipods are important prey resources for common kelp forest fishes, so these differences may in turn affect the spatial distributions of these predators. Moreover, excretion by amphipods may be an important source of nitrogen to giant kelp during periods of nitrogen limitation.


Kelp Forest Spatial Synchrony Giant Kelp Regional Synchrony Macrocystis Pyrifera 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank B. Hentschel, A. Kuris, and two anonymous reviewers for thoughtful comments on the manuscript, S. Gaines and K. Cavanaugh for statistical advice, and C. Gramlich for assistance in invertebrate taxonomy. We also thank J. Barr, M. Brett, J. Brower, M. Colvin, C. Jones, D. Hondolero, and S. Wheeler for field assistance in support of this project and SBC LTER for providing the Landsat data used in the study. We are grateful to many undergraduate volunteers for sorting amphipods, especially A. Bernabe, A. Evans, S. Grenier, I. Llamas, J. Mart, C. Mireles, and S. Waltz. This research was conducted in partial fulfillment of a master’s degree by D.N.M. and was funded in part by the San Diego State University Department of Biology Ecology Program and the California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science, and Technology. This is Contribution No. 48 of the Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory, San Diego State University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dana N. Morton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tom W. Bell
    • 3
  • Todd W. Anderson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Coastal and Marine InstituteSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine BiologyUniversity of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  3. 3.Earth Research InstituteUniversity of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

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