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SIZE STRUCTURE AND DYNAMICS IN A POPULATION OF SARGASSUM MUTICUM (PHAEOPHYCEAE)

Authors

  • Francisco Arenas,

    1. Unidad de Ecología, Departamento de Biología de Organismos y Sistemas, Universidad de Oviedo, E-33071 Oviedo, Spain
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  • Consolación Fernández

    Corresponding author
    1. Unidad de Ecología, Departamento de Biología de Organismos y Sistemas, Universidad de Oviedo, E-33071 Oviedo, Spain
      Author for correspondence: e-mail chely@sci.cpd.uniovi.es.
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Author for correspondence: e-mail chely@sci.cpd.uniovi.es.

Abstract

Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt is an introduced brown seaweed with a very distinctive seasonal growth cycle on European shores. The present study links the dynamics of a population of S. muticum with the seasonal growth cycle of the species and the density-dependent processes operating throughout this cycle. Results indicate that both growth cycle and intraspecific competition influenced the structure and population dynamics. Size inequality increased during the slow growth phase (autumn–winter) of the 2-year study. Mechanisms generating inequality of size could be the existence of asymmetric competition and the inherent differences in growth rates between old (regenerated) and new thalli (recruits). Inequality of size distributions decreased progressively during the last months of the growth phase (spring–summer) and could be related to a process of self-thinning. There was a negative biomass–density relationship (as a measure of biomass accumulation-driven mortality) that confirms the importance of self-thinning as a major demographic factor in the S. muticum population.

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