Epiphytes and associated fauna on the brown alga Fucus vesiculosus in the Baltic and the North Seas in relation to different abiotic and biotic variables


Priit Kersen, Estonian Marine Institute, University of Tartu, Mäealuse 14, 12618 Tallinn, Estonia.
E-mail: pkersen@ut.ee


Fucus vesiculosus L. is an important habitat-forming macroalga both in the saline and high diverse North Sea and the diluted and low diversity Baltic Sea. Despite its importance, comparisons of the spatial patterns of its epiphytes have rarely been reported. In this study we examined the species composition and density of macro-epiphytes and mobile fauna on the canopy-forming macroalga F. vesiculosus inhabiting different regimes of wave exposure in the North and Baltic Seas. The North and Baltic Seas had distinct epiphyte and mobile faunal communities. Wave exposure and segments of host fronds significantly contributed to the variability in species composition and dominance structure of epiphytes on F. vesiculosus in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. The study indicated that there is no clear spatial scale where environmental variables best predicted epiphytic and mobile faunal communities, and the formation of epiphytic and faunal communities is an interplay of factors operating through micro- to regional scales.