Impacts of gastropods on epiphytic microalgae on the brown macroalga Himantothallus grandifolius

Academic Article


  • Chemically defended benthic macroalgae that dominate shallow, hard bottom communities along the western Antarctic Peninsula support very high densities of mesograzers, particularly amphipods but also small gastropods. Previous studies have demonstrated that the macroalgae and amphipods form a mutualistic relationship. The chemically defended macroalgae provide the amphipods with a refuge from predation while the macroalgae benefit from the amphipods greatly reducing surface fouling by smaller algae. One of the three most important macroalgae in terms of overstory cover, Himantothallus grandifolius, forms huge blades that can carpet the benthos. Field observations suggest that gastropods may be higher in relative abundance in proportion to amphipods on H. grandifolius than on other overstory macroalgae. The present study documents the finding that natural abundances of gastropods on H. grandifolius maintained in mesocosms reduce fouling by microscopic algae, primarily diatoms. However, amphipods are probably also important in keeping the macroalga clean of diatoms in nature. In a smaller scale experiment, three gastropod species were differentially effective at reducing diatom coverage on H. grandifolius. The hypothesis that gastropods benefit from associating with H. grandifolius in potentially gaining a refuge from sea-star predation was also tested but not supported by the experimental results.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Antarctic Science  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Amsler CD; Amsler MO; Curtis MD; McClintock JB; Baker BJ
  • Start Page

  • 89
  • End Page

  • 97
  • Volume

  • 31
  • Issue

  • 2