Coralline algal skeletal mineralogy affects grazer impacts

In macroalgal‐dominated systems, herbivory is a major driver in controlling ecosystem structure. However, the role of altered plant–herbivore interactions and effects of changes to trophic control under global change are poorly understood. This is because both macroalgae and grazers themselves may be affected by global change, making changes in plant–herbivore interactions hard to predict. Coralline algae lay down a calcium carbonate skeleton, which serves as protection from grazing and is preserved in archival samples. Here, we compare grazing damage and intensity to coralline algae in situ over 4 decades characterized by changing seawater acidity. While grazing intensity, herbivore abundance and identity remained constant over time, grazing wound width increased together with Mg content of the skeleton and variability in its mineral organization. In one species, decreases in skeletal organization were found concurrent with deeper skeletal damage by grazers over time since the 1980s. Thus, in a future characterized by acidification, we suggest coralline algae may be more prone to grazing damage, mediated by effects of variability between individuals and species.

McCoy S. J. & Kamenos N. A., in press. Coralline algal skeletal mineralogy affects grazer impacts. Global Change Biology. Article (subscription required).

  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: