Many coastal ecosystems, such as coral reefs and seagrass meadows, currently experience overgrowth by fleshy algae due to the interplay of local and global stressors. This is usually accompanied by strong decreases in habitat complexity and biodiversity. Recently, persistent, mat-forming fleshy red algae, previously described for the Black Sea and several Atlantic locations, have also been observed in the Mediterranean. These several centimetre high mats may displace seagrass meadows and invertebrate communities, potentially causing a substantial loss of associated biodiversity. We show that the sessile invertebrate biodiversity in these red algae mats is high and exceeds that of neighbouring seagrass meadows. Comparative biodiversity indices were similar to or higher than those recently described for calcifying green algae habitats and biodiversity hotspots like coral reefs or mangrove forests. Our findings suggest that fleshy red algae mats can act as alternative habitats and temporary sessile invertebrate biodiversity reservoirs in times of environmental change.

Fleshy red algae mats act as temporary reservoirs for sessile invertebrate biodiversity

Casoli, Edoardo;
2022

Abstract

Many coastal ecosystems, such as coral reefs and seagrass meadows, currently experience overgrowth by fleshy algae due to the interplay of local and global stressors. This is usually accompanied by strong decreases in habitat complexity and biodiversity. Recently, persistent, mat-forming fleshy red algae, previously described for the Black Sea and several Atlantic locations, have also been observed in the Mediterranean. These several centimetre high mats may displace seagrass meadows and invertebrate communities, potentially causing a substantial loss of associated biodiversity. We show that the sessile invertebrate biodiversity in these red algae mats is high and exceeds that of neighbouring seagrass meadows. Comparative biodiversity indices were similar to or higher than those recently described for calcifying green algae habitats and biodiversity hotspots like coral reefs or mangrove forests. Our findings suggest that fleshy red algae mats can act as alternative habitats and temporary sessile invertebrate biodiversity reservoirs in times of environmental change.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11573/1652142
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