Disturbance effects of kelp thalli on structure and diversity of a coastal Arctic marine soft-bottom assemblage

Christian.Buschbaum [ at ] awi.de


The effects of biotic disturbances, like seaweed whiplash, on the diversity of benthic communities are well documented for temperate coastal systems, yet missing for Arctic benthos. In Arctic soft-bottom habitats, kelp thalli occur either continuously (e.g. trapped by sediment) or sporadically (by drifting on the sediment) after detachment from rocky shores. To explore whether a kelp thallus can disturb the structure and diversity of a coastal Arctic softbottom assemblage, we continuously fixed a single thallus of the kelp Saccharina latissima to or sporadically (i.e. biweekly) moved it on the sediment and compared treatment effects to unmanipulated plots (=controls). On 6 September 2013 (i.e. after 73 days of manipulation), one sediment core was taken from each of the 30 plots (n = 10), from which the number of individuals of each of the 45 encountered animal taxa was recorded. The continuous presence of an experimentally fixed kelp thallus significantly reduced the number of individuals on average by 27 %. This disturbance effect was even stronger, on average 49 %, where a kelp thallus was biweekly moved on the sediment. Likewise, taxon richness was lowered by an average of 19 and 36 % where a S. latissima thallus was continuously or sporadically present, respectively. While the composition of taxa was also significantly different among all treatment groups, evenness and biomass were unaffected by kelp treatments. We conclude that the presence and already movements of a single kelp thallus can promote small-scale patchiness in near-shore soft-bottom assemblage structure and diversity and exemplify a significant connection between rocky and sedimentary coastal habitats.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1007/s00300-015-1714-z

Cite as
Petrowski, S. , Molis, M. , Bender, A. and Buschbaum, C. (2016): Disturbance effects of kelp thalli on structure and diversity of a coastal Arctic marine soft-bottom assemblage , Polar Biology, 39 , pp. 2131-2140 . doi: 10.1007/s00300-015-1714-z

[thumbnail of Pet2016b.pdf]

Download (852kB) | Preview
Cite this document as:

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Geographical region

Research Platforms


Edit Item Edit Item