Skip to main content

Ecological interactions between the brown seaweed Sargassum muticum and its associated fauna

Abstract

The fauna inhabiting the brown seaweed Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt was studied at Friday Harbor, Washington, USA over a 2 mo period (July/August, 1978). The fauna lacked diversity, but a few species were found frequently and in great abundance, namely the amphipods Ampithoë mea Gurjanova, Aoroides columbiae Walker, Caprella laeviuscula Mayer and Ischyrocerus anguipes Kryer, and the gastropod Lacuna variegata Carpenter. All of these vagile species were more abundant on the better illuminated distal regions of the plant, where there was an abundant coating of the diatoms Biddulphia aurita (Lyngb.) de Breb and Melosira dubia (C. A. Ag.) Kutz. A comparison between plants bearing different periphyton loads revealed that Aoroides columbiae and C. laeviuscula were far more abundant on heavily infested plants. A similar trend was evident for Ampthoë mea and L. variegata, but was not sufficiently marked to be statistically significant. Plants bearing silt rather than diatoms supported reduced numbers of all the common species of associated animals and especially C. laeviuscula. The results of substratum selection experiments in the laboratory corresponded to the expectations raised by the field observations. Both A. mea and C. laeviuscula were strongly attracted to S. muticum, especially if it was coated with diatoms. Only live diatoms were attractive. C. laeviuscula shunned dead diatoms and also a thin layer of silt. L. variegata proved indifferent to S. muticum, diatoms or silt. The preferences exhibited are discussed in relation to the diet of each species as well as its need for a secure perch in a turbulent environment, and concealment from predators. The grazing rates of each of the three commonest herbivores found on S. muticum were also assessed. Ampithoë mea consumed up to 4.4 mg of S. muticum tissue per individual per day, although nest-building activities greatly added to its depredations. C. laeviuscula fed largely on diatoms and did not harm S. muticum. L. variegata was the most significant of the grazers tested. Full grown specimens consumed 8.1 mg tissue individual-1 d-1, but small specimens consumed more in relation to their body weight, 1.55 mg tissue per mg animal soft tissue-1 d-1. Estimates based on the abundance of grazers on S. muticum, their feeding rates and the growth rates of the plants revealed that in late summer, epiphytic grazers could remove more tissue than is being formed. This was, however, the slow growth period for S. muticum, and earlier in the year its very rapid growth should more than compensate for the effects of epiphytic grazers. In autumn, much of the fauna of S. muticum was lost with the natural defoliation of the plants, which therefore, must be restocked annually, probably from animals inhabiting nearby Zostera marina beds.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Literature cited

  1. Boaden, P. J. S., R. J. O. O'Connor and R. Seed: The composition and zonation of a Fucus serratus community in Co. Down. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 17, 111–136 (1975)

    Google Scholar 

  2. Brawley, S. H. and W. H. Adey: Micrograzers may affect macroalgal density. Nature, Lond. 292. p. 177 (1981)

    Google Scholar 

  3. Caine, E. A.: Feeding mechanisms and possible resource partitioning of the Caprellidae (Crustacea: Amphipoda) from Puget Sound, USA. Mar. Biol. 42, 331–336 (1977)

    Google Scholar 

  4. Caine, E. A.: Population structures of two species of caprellid amphipods. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 40, 103–114 (1979)

    Google Scholar 

  5. Caine, E. A.: Ecology of two littoral species of caprellid amphipods (Crustacea) from Washington, USA. Mar. Biol. 56, 327–335 (1980)

    Google Scholar 

  6. Colman, J. S.: On the faunas inhabiting intertidal seaweeds. J. mar. biol. Ass. UK. 24, 129–183 (1940)

    Google Scholar 

  7. Dahl, E.: On the smaller Arthropoda of marine algae, especially in the polyhaline waters of the Swedish West Coast. Unders. Öresund (Lund) 35, 1–193 (1948). (Dissertation, Lund University)

    Google Scholar 

  8. Deysher, L. and T. A. Norton: Dispersal and colonization in Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 56, 179–195 (1982)

    Google Scholar 

  9. Fralick, R. A., K. W. Turgeon and A. C. Mathieson: Destruction of kelp populations by Lacuna vincta (Montagu). Nautilus 88 112–114 (1974)

    Google Scholar 

  10. Fretter, V. and R. Manly: Algal associations of Tricolia pullus, Lacuna vincta and Cerithiopsis tubercularis (Gastropoda) with special reference to the settlement of their larvae. J. mar. biol. Ass. UK. 57, 999–1017 (1977)

    Google Scholar 

  11. Gray, P. W. G.: An investigation of the fauna associated with Sargassum muticum, 272 pp. Ph. D. thesis, CNAA Portsmouth Polytechnic 1978

  12. Gunnill, F. C.: Macroalgae as habitat patch islands for Scutellidium lamellipes (Copepoda: Harpacticoidea) and Ampithoe tea (Amphipoda: Gammaridae). Mar. Biol. 69, 103–116 (1982)

    Google Scholar 

  13. Hagerman, L.: The macro and microfauna associated with Fucus serratus L. with some ecological remarks. Ophelia 3, 1–43 (1966)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hicks, G. R. F.: Structure of phytal harpacticoid copepod assemblages and the influence of habitat complexity and turbidity. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 44, 157–192 (1980)

    Google Scholar 

  15. Kozloff, E. N.: Keys to the marine invertebrates of Puget Sound, the San Juan archipelago and adjacent regions, 226 pp. Seattle: University of Washington 1974

    Google Scholar 

  16. Martinez-Nadal, N. G., L. V. Rodriguez and C. Casillas: Isolation and characterisation of sarganim complex, a new broad spectrum antibiotic isolated from marine algae. Antimicrob. Ag. Chemother. 1964, 131–134 (1965)

    Google Scholar 

  17. Moore, P. G.: Particulate matter in the sublittoral zone of an exposed coast and its ecological significance, with special reference to the fauna inhabiting kelp holdfasts. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 10, 59–80 (1972)

    Google Scholar 

  18. Mukai, H.: The phytal animals on the thalli of Sargassum serratifolium in the Sargassum region, with reference to their seasonal fluctuations. Mar. Biol. 8, 170–182 (1971)

    Google Scholar 

  19. Nicholson, N. H. Hosmer, K. Bird, L. Hart, W. Sandlin C. Shoemaker and C. Sloan: The biology of Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt at Santa Catalina Island, California. Proc. int. Seaweed Symp. 8 (Bangor, 1974), 416–424 (1981). (Ed. by G. E. Fogg and W. E. Jones. Menai Bridge, N. Wales: The Marine Science Laboratory)

    Google Scholar 

  20. Norton, T. A.: An ecological study of the fauna inhabiting the sublittoral marine alga Saccorhiza polyschides. Hydrobiologia 37, 215–231 (1971)

    Google Scholar 

  21. Norton, T. A.: The growth and development of Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 26, 41–53 (1977)

    Google Scholar 

  22. Ohm, G.: Die Besiedlung der Fucus-zone der Kieler Bucht und der westlichen Ostsee unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Kikrofauna. Kieler Meeresforsch. 20, 30–64 (1964)

    Google Scholar 

  23. Round, F. E., J. F. Sloane, F. J. Ebling and J. A. Kitching: The ecology of Lough Ine. X. The hydroid Sertularia operculata (L.) and its associated flora and fauna: effects of transference to sheltered water. J. Ecol. 49, 617–629 (1961)

    Google Scholar 

  24. Ryland, J. S.: Observations on some epibionts of gulf weed, Sargassum natans (L.) Meyer. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 14, 17–27 (1974)

    Google Scholar 

  25. Sieburth, J. McN. and J. T. Conover: Sargassum tannin, an antibiotic which retards fouling. Nature, Lond. 208, 52–53 (1965)

    Google Scholar 

  26. Staude, C. P., J. W. Armstrong, R. M. Thom and K. K. Chew: An illustrated key to the intertidal gammaridean Amphipoda of Central Puget Sound. Contr. Univ. Wash. College Fish. 466, 1–27 (1977)

    Google Scholar 

  27. Stoner, A. W.: Perception and choice of substratum by epifaunal amphipods associated with seagrasses. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 3, 105–111 (1980)

    Google Scholar 

  28. Withers, R. G., W. F. Farnham, S. Lewey, N. A. Jephson, J. M. Haythorn and P. W. G. Gray: The epibionts of Sargassum muticum in British waters. Mar. Biol. 31, 79–86 (1975)

    Google Scholar 

  29. Zimmerman, R., R. Gibson and J. Harrington: Herbivory and detritivory among gammaridean amphipods from a Florida seagrass community. Mar. Biol. 54, 41–47 (1979)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

Communicated by J. Mauchline, Oban

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Norton, T.A., Benson, M.R. Ecological interactions between the brown seaweed Sargassum muticum and its associated fauna. Mar. Biol. 75, 169–177 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00405999

Download citation

Keywords

  • Brown Seaweed
  • Zostera Marina
  • Friday Harbor
  • Associate Fauna
  • Live Diatom