Hydrodynamic Transport of Drifting Macroalgae Through a Tidal Cut

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Drifting macroalgae are unattached seaweeds that are commonly found in many South Florida and Gulf of Mexico shallow-water seagrass habitats. They are primarily comprised of species of red algae (Rhodophyta) and some brown algae (Phaeophyta). Because of the unattached nature of these species, drift algae have the ability to be moved around the landscape primarily by tidal, as well as wind-driven and alongshore currents. Numerous invertebrates and some fish species are typically found associated with drift algal clumps and aggregations. Transport of drift algae is an important dispersal mechanism for both the plants and their associated fauna. Dispersal distances have been studied in numerous locations over a range of spatial scales. However, little is known about quantities of algal material that are involved. fn this study I report on composition and biomass of drifting algae that are transported through a tidal inlet in Biscayne Bay, Florida. Sargassum (a brown alga) and about 12 genera of red algae were found in three seasonal collections (Aug., Dec., May). Total biomass collected varied among seasons, with larger average amounts of drift algae collected in May than the other two months sampled. From this data, I calculate the approximate quantities of drift algae that are potentially moving in, or out of, Biscayne Bay, about a half to one ton of biomass per day. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science





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