Marine Biology

, Volume 148, Issue 4, pp 743–754 | Cite as

How an introduced seaweed can affect epibiota diversity in different coastal systems

  • Christian BuschbaumEmail author
  • Annelise S. Chapman
  • Bettina Saier
Research Article


Invasions by non-indigenous species have the potential to alter the biodiversity of recipient systems. The magnitude of this effect often depends on the nature of the invaded communities and the ecology of the invader. We investigated the impacts of the Japanese seaweed Sargassum muticum (Phaeophyceae, Fucales) on biodiversity in a rocky and sedimentary environment on two islands in the North Sea. In each case, we compared the epibiota of non-indigenous S. muticum with epibiota communities on taxonomically related and structurally similar native seaweed hosts. Total and average species richness on S. muticum were similar on the rocky shore (60 species and 22±6 species, respectively) and the sandy shore (64 species and 20±3 species, respectively). However, community structure and species composition differed significantly between the environments. On the rocky shore, another native fucoid seaweed, Halidrys siliquosa, supported an epibiota community very similar to that of the invader. On the sandy shore, the only other abundant native habitat-providing algal species was Fucus vesiculosus. This species supported a different and less diverse assemblage of associated taxa. We conclude that S. muticum enhances epibiota diversity in the sedimentary environment, probably by increasing the substratum availability and habitat heterogeneity. In contrast, it has negligible impacts on epibiota diversity in the rocky shore environment, where it does not represent a fundamentally new habitat component. We conclude that even within the same region, the consequences of non-indigenous species on biodiversity cannot be generalised but depend on the composition and structural complexity of the species in the recipient community.


Macroalgae Rocky Shore German Bight Macroalgal Community Algal Host 
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 Karsten Reise, Tony Chapman and three anonymous referees for their constructive criticism on earlier drafts of this manuscript. We also express our sincere appreciation to the research divers from Helgoland and Sylt for their logistical support.

This study was funded by a research grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft SA 931/1-2 (Bettina Saier).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Buschbaum
    • 1
    Email author
  • Annelise S. Chapman
    • 2
  • Bettina Saier
    • 2
  1. 1.Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchList/SyltGermany
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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