UV effects that come and go: a global comparison of marine benthic community level impacts


Martin Wahl, tel. +49 431 600 4577, fax +49 431 600 1671, e-mail: mwahl@ifm-geomar.de


Ambient UV radiation has substantially increased during the last decades, but its impact on marine benthic communities is hardly known. The aim of this study was to globally compare and quantify how shallow hard-bottom communities are affected by UV during early succession. Identical field experiments in 10 different coastal regions of both hemispheres produced a consistent but unexpected pattern: (i) UV radiation affected species diversity and community biomass in a very similar manner, (ii) diversity and biomass were reduced to a larger extent by UVA than UVB radiation, (iii) ambient UV levels did not affect the composition of the communities, and (iv) any UV effects disappeared during species succession after 2–3 months. Thus, current levels of UV radiation seem to have small, predictable, and transient effects on shallow marine hard-bottom communities.