Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

The extent of grazing release from epiphytism for Sargassum muticum (Phaeophyceae) within the invaded range

James A. Strong c1, Christine A. Maggsa1 and Mark P. Johnsona1

a1 School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK

Abstract

The overall biotic pressure on a newly introduced species may be less than that experienced within its native range, facilitating invasion. The brown alga Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt is a conspicuous and successful invasive species originally from Japan and China. We compared S. muticum and native macroalgae with respect to the biotic pressures of mesoherbivore grazing and ectocarpoid fouling. In Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, S. muticum thalli were as heavily overgrown with seasonal blooms of epiphytic algae as native macroalgal species were. The herbivorous amphipod Dexamine spinosa was much more abundant on S. muticum than on any native macroalga. When cultured with this amphipod, S. muticum lost more tissue than three native macroalgae, Saccharina latissima (Linnaeus) Lane et al., Halidrys siliquosa (Linnaeus) Lyngbye and Fucus serratus Linnaeus. Sargassum muticum cultured with both ectocarpoid fouling and amphipods showed a severe impact, consistent with our previous findings of large declines in the density of S. muticum observed in the field during the peak of fouling. Despite being a recent introduction into the macroalgal community in Strangford Lough, S. muticum appears to be under biotic pressure at least equal to that on native species, suggesting that release from grazing and epiphytism does not contribute to the invasiveness of this species in Strangford Lough.

(Received January 08 2008)

(Accepted April 04 2008)

Correspondence:

c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: J.A. Strong, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK email j.strong@qub.ac.uk