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Responses of crustose corallines to epiphyte and canopy cover

Authors

  • Marcia A. De O. Figueiredo,

    1. Port Erin Marine Laboratory (The University of Liverpool), Port Erin, Isle of Man, IM9 6JA, United Kingdom
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    • Present address: Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, Rua Pacheco Leão 915, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 22460-030, Brazil.

    • Author for reprint requests; fax +55-21-2947526; e-mail mfigueir@openlink.com.br.

  • Joanna M Kain ( Jones),

    1. Port Erin Marine Laboratory (The University of Liverpool), Port Erin, Isle of Man, IM9 6JA, United Kingdom
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  • Trevor A. Norton

    1. Port Erin Marine Laboratory (The University of Liverpool), Port Erin, Isle of Man, IM9 6JA, United Kingdom
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Abstract

Although a dense cover of epiphytes is generally considered to be harmful for some coralline algae (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta), crustose corallines in the littoral zone seem to be preserved from bleaching when covered by canopy plants and epiphytes during summer. This study aimed to test the responses of coralline crusts to epiphytes and canopy algae and their interaction with grazing limpets. Growth rates and color changes were followed in two crust species in areas with or without canopy algae in the Isle of Man, British Isles. Limpets were excluded, to allow epiphytes to grow upon crusts. Responses were measured both on pieces of crusts upon acrylic plates and on crusts growing naturally on the shore. Fucus canopy and epiphytic Enteromorpha significantly influenced the crusts' growth, depending on season. Epiphytes reduced the light levels beneath by up to 78%, more than the canopy algae (62%). Crusts exposed outside the canopy bleached in summer, but gradually restored their color once they were covered by epiphytes. The fast-growing Phymatolithon lenormandii (Aresch.) Adey recovered its coloration more quickly than the slow-growing P. purpureum (P. et H. Crouan) Woelkerling et Irvine. However, neither crust species could restore its color when epiphytes were reduced by grazing limpets, Patella vulgata L. Bleaching did not kill the crusts, but seemed to interfere with crusts' growth. Restoration of pigmentation was quantified for the first time on bleached coralline crusts. Epiphyte and canopy algae were experimentally shown to be beneficial, probably by providing shade and also protecting crusts from desiccation.

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