Transport and Persistence of Drifting Macroalgae (Rhodophyta) are Strongly Influenced By Flow Velocity and Substratum Complexity In Tropical Seagrass Habitats

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Currents induced by tidal circulation and wind in shallow tropical seagrass habitats can influence the distribution of drifting macroalgae. In Florida, drift algae are mostly comprised of 5 to 10 genera of Rhodophyta (red algae), with 1 or 2 dominant species. Drift clump transport was investigated through manipulative experiments. Increasing flow velocities entrained and transported clumps of drift algae; transport speeds were 50 to 67 % of flow velocity and did not vary statistically significantly between clump sizes tested. The roughness of the substratum influenced transport speeds, with moderate to dense monospecific turtlegrass Thalassia testudinum reducing the speed of transport compared to bare substratum. Mixed seagrass substrata (T testudinum and Halodule wrightii) further inhibited transport of drift clumps by more frequent entangling compared to the bare and monospecific substrata. Persistence of drift algae was inversely related to flow conditions, with longer persistence at low flow velocities.

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Marine Ecology-Progress Series



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