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Local distribution patterns of macroalgae in relation to environmental variables in the northern Baltic Proper
Department of Plant Ecology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Ecology and Environmental Science.
2005 (English)In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, ISSN 0272-7714, E-ISSN 1096-0015, Vol. 62, no 1-2, 109-117 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The relationship between macroalgal assemblages and abiotic factors was quantified by gradient analyses in an area where long-term changes in macroalgal depth distributions have previously been documented. Biomass data from 4, 6, 8 and 10 m depth in an area of similar salinity (5) and substrate (rock) in the northern Baltic Proper was constrained by a set of environmental variables defining different aspects of abiotic control of species distributions (sediment cover, effective fetch, clarity index, the curvature and slope of the bottom, and direction of exposure) in multivariate analyses at different scales. Fucus vesiculosus dominated the biomass at 4, 6 and 8 m depth, andFurcellaria lumbricalis at 10 m. The applied models explained 30.7–53.3% of the total variance in community structure, and 49.3–60.9% when analysed separately for each depth. A separate analysis of species depth distributions demonstrated that effective fetch was most strongly related to upper limits of the algal belts, sediment cover to the lower limit and density of the F. vesiculosusbelt, and clarity index to the lower limits of F. vesiculosus, perennial red algae, and of the red algal and Sphacelaria spp. belts. The results show a strong correlation between environmental variables and vegetation structure even on a small, local scale in the northern Baltic Proper, indicating a high suitability of the phytobenthic zone for environmental monitoring. The results add to previous studies that show a strong importance of abiotic factors on large-scale variation in phytobentic community composition in the Baltic Sea.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Academic Press , 2005. Vol. 62, no 1-2, 109-117 p.
Keyword [en]
sublittoral macroalgae, depth distribution, community composition, canonical correspondence analysis, redundancy analysis, monitoring
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4382OAI: diva2:143457
Available from: 2005-02-03 Created: 2005-02-03 Last updated: 2011-04-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Macroalgae in the Baltic Sea: responses to low salinity and nutrient enrichment in Ceramium and Fucus
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Macroalgae in the Baltic Sea: responses to low salinity and nutrient enrichment in Ceramium and Fucus
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The brackish Baltic Sea is a marginal environment for both marine and freshwater species. The rate of ecological differentiation is presumably high due to strong selection pressure from a gradient of decreasing salinity that has been present in its current state for only about 3 000 years. Even more recently, increased nutrient loading due to human activities has affected the growth rate of species, with potential effects on their competitive interactions and responses to other regulating factors. I have investigated the potential effects of low salinity and nutrient enrichment on the distributional ranges of two marine macroalgae with a wide distribution in the Baltic Sea, the red alga Ceramium tenuicorne (Kütz.) Wærn and the brown alga Fucus vesiculosus L.

A field study in the northern Baltic Sea indicated a strong relationship between the community structure of macroalgae and abiotic factors even on a small, local scale. The abiotic factors are potentially modulated by eutrophication, which may have a strong effect on the depth distribution and abundance of macroalgae. On a regional scale, laboratory experiments suggested that nutrient enrichment is unlikely to affect the distribution of Ceramium and Fucus along the salinity gradient. Growth in Ceramium from the Baltic Proper was enhanced by nitrate and phosphate, but the response did not override growth constraints due to low salinity. Ceramium from the Gulf of Bothnia had an inherently lower growth rate that was not positively affected by nitrate and phosphate increase. In Fucus vesiculosus, reproductive performance was impaired by nitrate and phosphate levels corresponding to ambient levels in eutrophicated areas of the Baltic Sea, when measured by their effect on zygote attachment, germination, and rhizoid development.

The wide distribution of Ceramium in the inner Baltic Sea is probably related to local adaptation, rather than a generalized tolerance of different salinity levels. Ecotypic differences were observed when comparing strains from the Baltic Proper (salinity 7 psu) and the Gulf of Bothnia (4 psu). A high rate of vegetative reproduction was evident, although sexual reproduction was occasionally observed in salinity 4. In Fucus vesiculosus, genetic and morphological analyses of sympatric and allopatric populations of the common, vesicular, morphotype and a dwarf morphotype, characteristic for the Gulf of Bothnia, showed that the dwarf morphotype represents a separate evolutionary lineage. Also, vegetative reproduction was observed in Fucus for the first time, as supported by genetic and experimental data.

The results show that the biota of the inner Baltic Sea may have unique adaptive and genetic properties, and that it is highly relevant to consider subspecies diversity in Baltic Sea management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Ekologi och geovetenskap, 2005. 40 p.
Ecology, adaptation, asexual reproduction, Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, salinity, macroalgae, nutrients, sexual reproduction, stress, Ekologi
National Category
Research subject
Ecological Botany
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-441 (URN)91-7305-816-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2005-02-25, Lilla hörsalen, KBC, Umeå, 10:00
Available from: 2005-02-03 Created: 2005-02-03Bibliographically approved

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