Polar Biology

, Volume 31, Issue 10, pp 1191–1203 | Cite as

Natural succession of macroalgal-dominated epibenthic assemblages at different water depths and after transplantation from deep to shallow water on Spitsbergen

  • Anna Fricke
  • Markus Molis
  • Christian Wiencke
  • Nelson Valdivia
  • Annelise S. Chapman
Original Paper


In the current study, we investigated the primary succession of seaweeds over different time periods at different water depths. Furthermore, we followed the succession of field-grown benthic communities of different successional age, developing on ceramic tiles, prior to and after transplantation from 8 to 0.5 m water depth. The transplantation simulated changes associated with the break up of sea-ice cover, e.g. light regime or wave exposure. For this purpose, we transplanted 12 and 21-month old communities, grown at 8 m water depth, together with a set of sterile tiles, onto rafts, floating in 0.5 m water depth. Our results describe for the first time the succession of macroalgal communities in the Arctic and give important insights into the effect of disturbance of differently aged communities. The primary succession at 0.5 m water depth was mainly driven by Bacillariophyta and filamentous green algae like Urospora sp. and Ulothrix implexa. Twelve-month old communities at 8 m water depth are dominated by members of the Ectocarpales (Phaeophyceae), like Pylaiella littoralis, P. varia, and Ectocarpus siliculosus and the green alga U. implexa, whereas the 21-month old community showed a higher cover of the green algal class Ulvophyceae and sessile invertebrates. After transplantation to near surface conditions, species composition of the communities changed, but this effect was differently strong between communities of different age.


Arctic Diversity Macroalgal Recruitment Sublittoral Succession Hard bottom Community Transplantation 



This work was part of the diploma thesis of the first author and has been carried out at the Ny Ålesund International Research and Monitory Facility. The authors thank the German scientific diving crew under the leadership of Max Schwanitz: Claudia Daniel, Peter Leopold, and Michael Tessmann for assistance in the field, as well as the Koldewey Station team Rainer Vockenroth, Kai Marholdt, and Cedric Couret for support. Thank to Betti Saier, for assistance in the sampling, conducted in 2005. Thank to Ruth Müller for assistance in measuring the environmental data during the experimental time. Thanks for help in identification questions to Mara Schmiing, Jana Wölfel, Ulf Karsten, and Margaret Clayton. We gratefully acknowledge financial support by the AWI.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Fricke
    • 1
    • 2
  • Markus Molis
    • 3
  • Christian Wiencke
    • 1
  • Nelson Valdivia
    • 3
  • Annelise S. Chapman
    • 4
  1. 1.Section Seaweed BiologyAlfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Centre for Tropical Marine EcologyBremenGermany
  3. 3.Section Seaweed BiologyBiologische Anstalt Helgoland, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchHelgolandGermany
  4. 4.Biology DepartmentDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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