Changes in Coastal Benthic Algae Succession Trajectories and Assemblages Under Contrasting Nutrient and Grazer Loads
FRICKE, A.; KOPPRIO, G.A.; ALEMANY, D.; GASTALDI, M.; NARVARTE, M.; PARODI, E.R.; LARA, R.J.; HIDALGO, F; MARTÍNEZ, A.; SAR, E.A.; IRIBARNE, O.; MARTINETTO, P.
ESTUARIES AND COASTS
Lugar: Berlin; Año: 2016 vol. 39 p. 462 - 477
Eutrophication plays a crucial role in coastal systems, driving changes in the composition and abundance of flora and fauna with consequent effects for the entire ecosystem. Sensitive to nutrient levels, micro- and macroalgal blooms serve as valuable indicators of eutrophication. The San Antonio Bay (Northern Argentinean Patagonia, 40° 43′ S, 64° 56′ W) provides an appropriate system to study in situ eutrophication processes on coastal communities. In a multi-scale approach, using two different kind of settlement substrates (micro: polyethylene terephthalate, and macro: ceramic), the present study followed benthic algal dynamics over one year, distinguishing changes in natural succession and seasonality. Strong differences were found in the biofilm assemblages after three days, marked by tube dwelling diatoms and Cocconeis spp. under high nutrient-grazer conditions and needle like diatoms (e.g. Nitzschia spp., Tabularia spp.) under lower nutrient-grazer loads. The succession continued by the colonization of macroalgae, with a higher recruitment rate in the nutrient and grazer rich environment with a concomitant higher diversity. Our results show that under higher nutrient-grazer conditions natural benthic succession not only differs in trajectory but in its final taxa composition promoting higher biodiversity and biomass accumulation. In addition, taxa specific substrate preferences interfere with the observed eutrophication pattern, suggesting substrate dependant interrelations between the bloom forming taxa. These findings provide evidence that nutrient enrichment can not only affect an established assemblage but also affect the early succession stages, changing the succession trajectory and thus the final assemblage.