Population biology of the intertidal kelp, Alaria marginata Postels and Ruprecht: A non-fugitive annual

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McConnico, L. A., & Foster, M. S. (2005). Population biology of the intertidal kelp, Alaria marginata Postels and Ruprecht: A non-fugitive annual. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 324(1), 61-75. doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2005.04.006
TitlePopulation biology of the intertidal kelp, Alaria marginata Postels and Ruprecht: A non-fugitive annual
AuthorsA. McConnico, S. Foster
AbstractPersistence of annual plant populations requires sufficient seeds and suitable habitat for development and growth each year. Competition with perennials may prevent within site persistence and result in "fugitive" annual populations. Comparisons have been made between the population biology of annual macroalgae and terrestrial plants, but demographic information necessary to make strong comparisons is lacking for most of these algae, and life history differences may make such comparisons questionable. We studied population dynamics of the kelp Alaria marginata to determine if it was an annual and, if so, how populations persisted. This kelp is the dominant macroalga on exposed mid to low rocky intertidal shores along the Big Sur coast of California. Experimental clearings at two sites were used to assess recruitment timing and survivorship. Sporophytes were collected monthly to determine growth and fecundity. Recruitment occurred in late winter to early spring, primarily on geniculate corallines and residual A. marginata holdfasts. Thinning was inversely related to density, and occurred during the February through July growing season as larger thalli rapidly increased in length (up to 1.4 m month-1) and formed a thick canopy. Sorus development was positively related to size, began as early as March, peaked in late August-October, and decreased as adults were removed by winter surf. Spore release was generally highest (108-109 spores individual-11 h-1) between October and January and associated with high water motion. Survivorship of sporophytes beyond one year was < 1%, showing the populations were annual. Field observations and experiments on effects of canopy clearing, season of clearing, and influence of substrate type on recruitment were done to assess how these annual populations persist. Massive spore production at the onset of fall storms, survival of microscopic stages for 3-4 months facilitated by microhabitat refuges, rapid growth, large size and rapid maturation of sporophytes contributed to persistence. Furthermore, the dense stands with thick canopies may suppress potential competitors via shading and abrasion. Rather than being a fugitive, this combination of growth and life history features enables A. marginata and perhaps other large, annual kelps to maintain perennial populations. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Start page61
End page75
Subjectsannual plant, demography, kelp forest, population dynamics, California, North America, United States, Western Hemisphere, World, Alaria marginata, algae, Bacteria (microorganisms), Laminariales
NoteCited By (since 1996):9, CODEN: JEMBA