Effects of alga Fucus serratus decline on benthic assemblages and trophic linkages at its retreating southern range edge

Type Article
Date 2015-05
Language English
Author(s) Duarte Linney1, Rossi Francesca2, Docal Cristina3, Viejo Rosa M.1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Rey Juan Carlos, Area Biodiversidad & Conservac, Madrid 28933, Spain.
2 : Univ Montpellier, CNRS, MARBEC, UMR 9190, F-34095 Montpellier, France.
3 : Univ Coimbra, IMAR CMA Inst Mar, Dept Ciencias Vida, P-3004517 Coimbra, Portugal.
Source Marine Ecology Progress Series (0171-8630) (Inter-research), 2015-05 , Vol. 527 , P. 87-103
DOI 10.3354/meps11248
WOS© Times Cited 10
Keyword(s) Canopy-forming algae, Fucus serratus, Rear range edge margin, delta N-15, delta C-13, Stable isotope analysis, Food web

Canopy-forming seaweeds are important coastal ecosystem engineers that sustain diverse multi-trophic assemblages. Their losses, with the subsequent reduction in habitat complexity, have been documented across many parts of the world and are often attributed to climate change and other anthropogenic factors. The general aim of the present study was to understand the repercussions of the decline of the canopy-forming alga Fucus serratus L. at its retreating southern range edge in the diversity and food-web linkages of intertidal assemblages. Few studies have attempted to document changes in benthic food webs following canopy loss. We examined the differences among southern locations situated at different distances from the range margin: those at the very edge, where F. serratus experienced a dramatic decline during recent years (marginal locations), and those where F. serratus is still dominant (central locations). Comparisons were made among locations situated at the same latitude and sharing a recent history of F. serratus dominance. Trophic relationships were analyzed using natural abundances of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes. We report clear changes in the structure of benthic assemblages and lower trophic positioning of some consumers, suggesting an overall shrinkage of the food web length at the contracting range edge of F. serratus, which will transfer to higher trophic levels. Under present and future climatic scenarios, shifts in the distribution of coastal ecosystem engineers could entail a reorganization of local natural assemblages and food webs. More attention should be given to measure how much these shifts can modify the whole coastal food webs and their functioning.

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Duarte Linney, Rossi Francesca, Docal Cristina, Viejo Rosa M. (2015). Effects of alga Fucus serratus decline on benthic assemblages and trophic linkages at its retreating southern range edge. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 527, 87-103. Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11248 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00626/73845/