Impacts of mesograzers on epiphyte and endophyte growth associated with chemically defended macroalge from the western antarctic peninsula: A mesocosm experiment

Academic Article


  • It has been hypothesized that the extensive mesograzer community along the western Antarctic Peninsula regulates epiphytic algae as well as emergent filaments from endophytic species. Should grazing limit growth of fouling or potentially pathogenic microphytes, then Antarctic macrophytes may actually benefit from the remarkably high densities of mesograzer amphipods that occur in these waters. Although initially counterintuitive, the negative impacts of epi/endophyte fouling may outweigh stresses caused by limited amphipod grazing on chemically defended macrophytes by reducing stress from endo/epiphyte biomass. If so, then alleviating mesograzing stress should result in significant increases in endo/epiphytic biomass. To test this hypothesis, a mesocosm experiment was conducted. Individuals representing four common species of Antarctic macroalgae were placed in flow-through seawater mesocosms. Amphipods were added to five mesocosms at simulated natural densities, while the other five remained herbivore free. At the end of 7weeks, endo/epiphytic growth on individual macrophytes was quantified. Most species of macroalgae demonstrated noticeably higher instances of endophyte coverage, epiphytic diversity, and diatom colonization in consumer-free mesocosms than in the presence of amphipods. These data suggest that macroalgae along the western Antarctic Peninsula rely on grazers to control populations of potentially harmful epiphytes. We hypothesize that the chemically defended macroalgal flora lives in mutualism with high densities of mesograzers, providing amphipods with shelter from predation while continually being cleaned of potentially harmful endo/epiphytes. © 2010 Phycological Society of America.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Aumack CF; Amsler CD; McClintock JB; Baker BJ
  • Start Page

  • 36
  • End Page

  • 41
  • Volume

  • 47
  • Issue

  • 1