Epiphytic macroalgal assemblages of Posidonia oceanica rhizomes in the western Mediterranean
Macroalgal assemblages of Posidonia oceanica rhizomes of the western Mediterranean have been studied, in order to describe the structure of this community and to evaluate changes due to recent macroalgal invasions. To achieve these objectives, P. oceanica rhizomes were sampled from 21 beds distributed throughout the western Mediterranean Sea and macroalgal assemblages were studied using both species and functional groups as descriptors. Moreover, modifications linked to temporal fluctuations and depth were evaluated in an insular and in a continental bed. A total of 74 macroalgal species were found, among them 7 Chlorophyta, 8 Fucophyceae and 59 Rhodophyta. The species number varied from 5±0 at Vada to 18±0.58 at Panarea Island. The total percentage cover ranged from 19.5±1.8 at Cabo de Creus to 77.2±13.3 at La Maddalena Island. Filamentous species were dominant in the localities colonized by Acrothamnion preissii or Womersleyella setacea, while a high functional diversity occurred where the two introduced species were not present or they did not constitute dense turfs; the importance of crustose and foliose species was remarkable, while low cover of articulate and corticated-terete species was found at all localities. Localities where turfs were not developed were grouped together, even if they appeared more dispersed than those dominated by filamentous algae. The two beds studied over a 1 year period showed higher values of macroalgal cover in March and December, although significant differences were not detected with ANOVA in relation to either depth or season. The development of turfs, which occurs widely in western Mediterranean seagrass beds, seems to modify strongly the structure of macroalgal assemblages of rhizomes, mostly via the decrease in species and functional diversity.
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