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Plant Part Age and Size Affect Sessile Macrobenthic Assemblages Associated with a Foliose Red Algae Phycodrys rubens in the White Sea

1
P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow 117997, Russia
2
Invertebrate Zoology Department, St.-Petersburg State University, Saint-Petersburg 199034, Russia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(5), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11050080
Received: 14 April 2019 / Revised: 10 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 17 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
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Abstract

Facilitation by foundation species commonly structures terrestrial and marine communities. Intraspecific variation in individual properties of these strong facilitators can affect the whole suite of the dependent taxa. Marine macroalgae often act as ecosystem engineers, providing shelter and substrate for numerous associated organisms. Epibiosis of foliose red algae, however, remains underexplored, especially in the high latitudes. Here we studied sessile macrobenthic assemblages associated with a foliose red algae Phycodrys rubens in the White Sea (66° N) shallow subtidal, and the effect of individual plant properties on their structure. The blades of P. rubens develop annually, and it is possible to tell the young (usually larger) plant parts from the old ones. We hypothesized that epibenthic community structure depends on plant part age and size. We examined epibiosis on 110 plants at two sites, and the results generally supported our hypotheses. Old plant parts were several times smaller, and had higher total cover than young parts. Sponges strongly dominated the epibiosis on old parts, and young parts were dominated by polychaetes and bryozoans. Plant part surface area negatively correlated with total cover on young parts, while on old parts the relatioship was location-specific. On young parts the relative abundance of a polychaete Circeis armoricana increased with surface area, and the proportion of sponges decreased. The patterns indicate that epibenthic community structure is linked to the demography of an ecosystem engineer. View Full-Text
Keywords: epibiosis; foundation species; facilitation; Arctic; macroalgae; ecosystem engineer epibiosis; foundation species; facilitation; Arctic; macroalgae; ecosystem engineer
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Chava, A.; Artemieva, A.; Yakovis, E. Plant Part Age and Size Affect Sessile Macrobenthic Assemblages Associated with a Foliose Red Algae Phycodrys rubens in the White Sea. Diversity 2019, 11, 80.

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