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Deep-water stands of Cystoseira zosteroides C. Agardh (Fucales, Ochrophyta) in the Northwestern Mediterranean: Insights into assemblage structure and population dynamics

AuthorsBallesteros, Enric ; Garrabou, Joaquim ; Hereu, Bernat; Zabala, Mikel; Cebrian, Emma ; Sala, Enric
Deep-water algae
Population structure
Issue DateMay-2009
CitationEstuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 82(3): 477-484 (2009)
AbstractPopulations dominated by Cystoseira zosteroides, an endemic and threatened Mediterranean seaweed, colonize deep-water rocky habitats down to more than 50 m depth. Assemblages dominated by this species display high algal and invertebrate species richness. Algal biomass averages 1134 g dwm 2. Erect and turf algae account for only 25% of total algal dry weight, while encrusting corallines are responsible for the remaining 75%. Sponges, bryozoans and ascidians constitute the dominant sessile macrofauna. Cystoseira zosteroides is the dominant erect algae, with a mean biomass of 60.6 g dwm 2, and densities ranging from 4 to 7 plantsm 2. The alien turf algaWomersleyella setacea has a biomass of 104.2 g dwm and covers most of the understory substrate. The size-frequency distribution of C. zosteroides populations shows differences over time. Mean annual growth of the main axis is around 0.5 cm and mean annual mortality rate is lower than 2%. Recruitment was almost nil during the studied period of time (10 years). Processes structuring these deep-water Cystoseira stands must be driven by episodic disturbances, afterdisturbance recruitment pulses, and long periods of steady growth that last at least 10 years. However, it is also possible that recruitment is irreversibly inhibited by the alien alga W. setacea in which case these old-growth stands are faced with extinction. The highly diversified assemblages and the low growth and low mortality rates of C. zosteroides indicate high vulnerability to natural and anthropogenic disturbances, and call for effective measures to ensure their conservation
Description8 pages, 3 figures, 3 tables
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2009.02.013
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