Spatio-temporal variability of strandings of the southern bull kelp Durvillaea antarctica (Fucales, Phaeophyceae) on beaches along the coast of Chile—linked to local storms

Abstract

Availability of floating seaweeds may depend on the seasonal cycles of benthic populations, but our ability to predict temporal patterns of stranded biomasses is still limited. Season-dependent, local storms favor detachment of seaweeds from the substratum, which can be reflected in the stranded biomasses on adjacent beaches after these events. Hence, we hypothesized that seaweed strandings are positively correlated with storm intensity. Using as a model the southern bull kelp Durvillaea antarctica (Chamisso) Hariot, a species frequently found in seaweed strandings in Chile, bimonthly surveys were carried out on three beaches: Pichicuy (32° S), Itata Norte (36° S), and Curiñanco (39° S) for 3 years (2014 to 2017). Stranded biomass, total length, and wet weight of specimens were quantified and related to local storms (using the Douglas sea scale). Stranded biomasses decreased in the spring months of each year, being higher in Pichicuy and Curiñanco than Itata Norte. Regression models showed a better fit with recent storms in Curiñanco compared to other beaches. An interannual decrease of beach-cast raft size was observed, showing smaller specimens in Itata Norte than those in Pichicuy and Curiñanco. Reduced habitat availability and the exploitation of natural beds in the central zone (34°–37° S) might explain the decrease of biomasses and sizes of stranded bull kelps. Also, oceanographic features at intermediate (i.e., local winds and currents) and large scales (i.e., El Niño) can help to explain the temporal variability, particularly in spring and summer. Our results suggest that harvesting of stranded bull kelps might be most favorable in summer and autumn.

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Acknowledgments

We wish to express our gratitude to Óscar Pino, Vieia Villalobos, and Ulyces Urtubia from Universidad Católica del Norte for their field assistance, as well as all the participants of the Universidad de Concepción (Algalab) and Universidad Austral de Chile (Lafkenchelab) who collaborated during field surveys in central and southern beaches, respectively. Also, Dr. Marcelo Rivadeneira is recognized for his suggestions about statistical analyses. Comments from one anonymous reviewer were very helpful in improving the original manuscript.

Funding

This study was financed by CONICYT/FONDECYT 1131082 to M.T. and F.T. and PhD fellowship Beca CONICYT-PCHA/DoctoradoNacional/2014-21140010 to BL. E.C.M. and N.V. were supported by FONDAP research grant 15150003 (IDEAL).

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Correspondence to Boris A. López.

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López, B.A., Macaya, E.C., Jeldres, R. et al. Spatio-temporal variability of strandings of the southern bull kelp Durvillaea antarctica (Fucales, Phaeophyceae) on beaches along the coast of Chile—linked to local storms. J Appl Phycol 31, 2159–2173 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10811-018-1705-x

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Keywords

  • Bull kelps
  • Douglas sea scale
  • Floating seaweeds
  • Sandy beaches
  • Strandings