Role of Recruitment in Structuring beds of Sargassum SPP. (Phaeophyta) at Rottnest Island, Western Australia

G.A. Kendrick, Diana Walker

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    The importance of annual recruitment to the structure of adult stands of Sargassum was determined for a mixed species Sargassum bed at Rottnest Island, Western Australia. The morphologically similar species Sargassum spinuligerum Sonder, S. distichum Sonder, and S. podacanthum Sonder grew together in the shallow subtidal (6 m). Positive species determinations were only possible when thalli were reproductive, so recruits, bases, and vegetative annuals for all species were grouped together. Densities of recruits, perennial bases, vegetative annuals, and reproductive annuals were determined at monthly intervals from 20 randomly placed 0.25-m2 quadrats. Recruitment and mortality for recruits and adults were further determined at three monthly intervals from 6-x-1-m2 permanent quadrats.The density of adults varied little with season (between 32 and 58 m-2). Growth of annuals was initiated in April, thalli became reproductive by late August-early September, and senescence occurred in December-January. Density of recruits was highly variable (1.6-2.10 individuals . m-2) and peaked seasonally during late summer (January-February) and then declined rapidly.Adults showed a complete turnover of thalli in the bed over 25-27 months. Adult mortality was compensated by annual recruitment from propagules (43%) and vegetative regeneration from fragments of holdfasts left on the reef (57%). A seasonal pattern in survivorship was observed for adults that grew from recruits with higher initial numbers and lower mortalities for August and November cohorts. Little seasonality was observed in survivorship of adults that grew vegetatively from remnant crusts. Although initial cohort sizes were smaller for adults grown from recruits than from remnant crusts, mortality was lower, resulting in similar contributions to adult density from both recruits and remnant crusts.Recruitment from propagules and vegetative regeneration played an important role in buffering the adult stand from high rates of mortality and reducing seasonal variation in adult density and contributed to the persistence and seasonal structure of Sargassum beds at Rottnest Island.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)200-208
    JournalJournal of Phycology
    Publication statusPublished - 1994


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