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Nutrients increase epiphyte loads: broad-scale observations and an experimental assessment
Russell, B.D.; Elsdon, T.S.; Gillanders, B.M.; Connell, S.D. (2005). Nutrients increase epiphyte loads: broad-scale observations and an experimental assessment. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 147(2): 551-558.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Russell, B.D.
  • Elsdon, T.S.
  • Gillanders, B.M.
  • Connell, S.D.

    There is a global trend towards elevated nutrients in coastal waters, especially on human-dominated coasts. We assessed local- to regional-scale relationships between the abundance of epiphytic algae on kelp (Ecklonia radiata) and nutrient concentrations across much of the temperate coast of Australia, thus assessing the spatial scales over which nutrients may affect benthic assemblages. We tested the hypotheses that (1) percentage cover of epiphytic algae would be greater in areas with higher water nutrient concentrations, and (2) that an experimental enhancement of nutrient concentrations on an oligotrophic coast, to match more eutrophic coasts, would cause an increase in percentage cover of epiphytic algae to match those in more nutrient rich waters. Percentage cover of epiphytes was most extensive around the coast of Sydney, the study location with the greatest concentration of coastal chlorophyll a (a proxy for water nutrient concentration). Elevation of nitrate concentrations at a South Australian location caused an increase in percentage cover of epiphytes that was comparable to percentage covers observed around Sydney’s coastline. This result was achieved despite our inability to match nutrient concentrations observed around Sydney (<5% of Sydney concentrations), suggesting that increases to nutrient concentrations may have disproportionately larger effects in oligotrophic waters.

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