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Light, sediment, temperature, and the early life-history of the habitat-forming alga Cystoseira barbata
Irving, A.D.; Balata, D.; Colosio, F.; Ferrando, G.A.; Airoldi, L. (2009). Light, sediment, temperature, and the early life-history of the habitat-forming alga Cystoseira barbata. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 156(6): 1223-1231.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Irving, A.D.
  • Balata, D.
  • Colosio, F.
  • Ferrando, G.A.
  • Airoldi, L., more

    Recruitment is essential for the maintenance of populations, but far more is typically known about the more easily-observed adult stages than their smaller, often microscopic early life-history counterparts. This discrepancy can be particularly problematic for populations of foundation species that create biogenic habitat for a multitude of other taxa, but are themselves prime candidates for exploitation, fragmentation, and loss, and therefore become the focus of restoration efforts partly or fully dependent on recruitment. The purpose of this study was to improve ecological understanding for early life-history stages of the habitat-forming marine alga Cystoseira barbata (Stackhouse) C. Agardh (Fucales: Sargassaceae), member of a genus that has experienced considerable fragmentation and population decline on European coasts. Using experimental manipulations of water temperature, light intensity, and sediment accumulation, we observed that sediment virtually precluded recruitment of C. barbata, and greatly impacted the survival of recently settled germlings (up to ~83% mortality). Stronger intensities of light facilitated the growth of germlings, including the capacity for ~50% of them to outgrow detrimental sediment and survive. Temperature (10 vs. 16°C) had no effect on early recruitment, survival, or growth. This information helps to identify likely causes and locations of recruitment failure, and by extension, the conditions needed (either naturally or through human intervention) to facilitate recruitment and possible habitat restoration. Ultimately, this knowledge can increase our capacity to predict population persistence and the likely success of restoration efforts.

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