Coastal floating seaweed, originating from the intertidal, is colonized by various pelagic and subtidal benthic animals. At southwestern Iceland, common macrofaunal colonizers include the fish Cyclopterus lumpus L., the harpacticoid Parathalestris croni (Krøyer), the amphipods Calliopius laeviusculus (Krøyer), Gammarellus angulosus (Rathke), Dexamine thea Boeck and Ischyrocerus anguipes (Krøyer), and the isopod Idotea baltica Pallas. The colonization patterns of these species were studied by collecting samples from experimental and natural clumps of floating seaweed at approximately monthly intervals for ca. 18 months. The occurrence of colonizers was highly seasonal with maximum numbers between April and September. For most species, numbers were correlated with weight of clumps. The relationship of density (numbers/100 g algae) to weight of clump and distance from shore varied between species. The algal species composition of clumps appeared to influence some colonizers. Only juvenile C. lumpus were found, while all P. croni were sexually mature; juveniles predominated in other species. The different colonization patterns of the species can be explained partly by their biological traits. The clumps are vital for the breeding of P. croni and are used for feeding by C. lumpus fry. Other species possibly colonize floating algae accidentally, being programmed to seek attached vegetation. Floating clumps may, nevertheless, serve to disperse these species.
- floating seaweed
- life histories