Reefs as contributors to diversity of epiphytic macroalgae assemblages in seagrass meadows

B.R. Van Elven, P.S. Lavery, Gary Kendrick

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27 Citations (Scopus)


The links between macroalgae-covered reefs and diversity and biomass of epiphyticalgae assemblages in adjacent seagrass meadows were investigated. Algae assemblages were sampledin 3 habitats: on-reef, seagrass meadow near-reef (3000 m), off the coast of Fremantle, Western Australia. We interpreted differencesamong these habitats as evidence that proximity to reefs influences epiphytic algae assemblages.Propagules in the water column, epiphytes recruiting onto artificial seagrass units (ASU) and assemblageson natural Posidonia sinuosa were sampled in each habitat. For propagules, ASU and naturalP. sinuosa, there were significant differences in the structure of algae assemblages near and distantfrom reefs, while assemblages near reefs tended to resemble those found on reefs. Multivariateanalysis (ANOSIM) confirmed that propagule assemblages near reefs and on reefs were similar, butthose distant from reefs differed from those on reefs. Near-reef habitat recorded the highest totalnumber of algal taxa growing on ASU (53), followed by on-reef (44) and distant-from-reef (37) habitats.ANOSIM again confirmed that assemblages at on- and near-reef sites were not significantly different,but both differed from those at sites distant from reef. We identified 59 species of algal epiphytesgrowing on mature P. sinuosa leaves at near-reef and distant-from-reef sites, with only 19species being common to both habitats, and multivariate analyses were suggestive of differences inassemblage structure. Biomass was only recorded for the ASU epiphyte assemblages and was greatestin the near-reef habitat (0.63 ± 0.11 g shoot–1) followed by the on-reef habitat and the distantfrom-reef habitat (0.18 ± 0.04 and 0.11 ± 0.01 g shoot–1, respectively). Our results demonstrate thatdiversity and biomass of macroalgae epiphytes in seagrass ecosystems differ between habitats ofvarying proximity to reefs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-83
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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