Propagule banks, herbivory and nutrient supply control population development and dominance patterns in macroalgal blooms

Lotze, Heike K. , Worm, Boris and Sommer, Ulrich (2000) Propagule banks, herbivory and nutrient supply control population development and dominance patterns in macroalgal blooms Oikos, 85 . pp. 46-58. DOI 10.1034/j.1600-0706.2000.890106.x.

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Destructive macroalgal mass blooms threaten estuarine and coastal ecosystems worldwide. We asked which factors regulate macroalgal bloom intensity, distribution and species composition. In field experiments in the Baltic Sea, we analyzed the relative effects of nutrients, herbivores and algal propagule banks on population development and dominance patterns in two co-occurring bloom-forming macroalgae, Enteromorpha intestinalis and Pilayella littoralis.
Both species were highly affected by the combined effects of a propagule bank, herbivory and nutrients. The magnitude of effects varied with season. The propagule bank was an important overwintering mechanism for both algae, and allowed for recruitment two months earlier than recruitment via freshly dispersed propagules. This provided a seasonal escape from intense herbivory and nutrient limitation later in the year. Favored by massive recruitment from the propagule bank, Enteromorpha was the superior space occupier in early spring, thereby reducing recruitment of Pilayella. Elimination of the propagule bank and recruitment via freshly dispersed propagules favored Pilayella. Strong and selective herbivory on Enteromorpha supported Pilayella in the presence, but not in the absence of the propagule bank. Nutrient enrichment in summer counteracted herbivore pressure on Enteromorpha, thereby negatively affecting Pilayella. Herbivore and nutrient effects were more pronounced for early life stages than adult algae.
These results show that recruitment processes and forces affecting early life stages at the beginning of the vegetation period determine development and dominance patterns of macroalgal blooms. Herbivores naturally suppress blooms but increasing nutrient enrichment can override this important control mechanism. The propagule bank plays a previously unrecognized role for population and community dynamics.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-N Experimental Ecology - Food Webs
OceanRep > Institute for Marine Science Kiel
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1034/j.1600-0706.2000.890106.x
ISSN: 0030-1299
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:24
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2017 14:28

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