Variable effects of a kelp foundation species on rocky intertidal diversity and species interactions in central California

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Hughes, B. B. (2010). Variable effects of a kelp foundation species on rocky intertidal diversity and species interactions in central California. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 393(1), 90-99. doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2010.07.003
TitleVariable effects of a kelp foundation species on rocky intertidal diversity and species interactions in central California
AuthorsB. Hughes
AbstractThe effect of foundation species on community assemblages in physically stressful environments has received much recent attention because of the importance of foundation species in ameliorating environmental stress. Many studies have described variable effects of foundation species on community diversity at small scales, but net positive effects over large scales. Egregia menziesii (Turner) J.E. Areschoug is a large and robust perennial kelp that creates a structurally complex habitat on rocky shores of the Northeast Pacific. This study investigated the effects of Egregia sporophytes on benthic assemblages of the rocky intertidal along the central California coast. Egregia sporophytes strongly impacted the structure of associated communities, due to wave-driven whiplash of fronds, shading, or habitat provision. A survey of Egregia populations at 10 stations along 200. km of the central California coast found effects of Egregia density on the intertidal to be consistent among sites. Increased Egregia sporophyte density negatively affected algal species richness, total algal cover, and cover of the most conspicuous species of algae. However, there was a positive relationship with algal crusts, geniculate coralline algae, and sessile invertebrates. Egregia removal experiments at two sites within the study area experimentally tested for the effects of Egregia on intertidal communities. Results from Soberanes Pt. were consistent with survey results because of the negative effect of Egregia on algal species diversity, subcanopy layering, and cover of abundant algal species. However, removal experiments at Pigeon Pt. resulted in a positive Egregia effect on algal diversity and cover of abundant algal species possibly due to lower Egregia densities, lower wave exposure than Soberanes Pt., and stress amelioration. In the lower energy environment, Egregia acted as a sand trap, yet sand accumulation did not negatively impact algal diversity. Negative effects of large brown algae on benthic assemblages have been observed in temperate waters around the world for certain intertidal or subtidal kelp in wave-swept environments allowing for scouring and substrate shading. This study shows that Egregia and morphologically similar brown algal species can have both negative and positive effects on community diversity depending on variation in density and local environmental conditions. Egregia has the opposite effect on community diversity than what has been previously reported for foundation species because it negatively affects biodiversity in stressful environments, but has a positive effect in less stressful environments. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Start page90
End page99
Subjectsbenthos, brown alga, community dynamics, ecological impact, environmental conditions, environmental stress, facilitation, kelp forest, rocky shore, seaweed, species diversity, species richness, California, Pacific Coast [North America], United States, algae, Columba, Egregia, Egregia menziesii, Invertebrata, Phaeophyceae
NoteCited By (since 1996):3, CODEN: JEMBA, Seaweeds