The red alga Polysiphonia lanosa (L ) Tandy is an obligate epiphyte that primarily occurs on the fucoid brown algal basiphyte Ascophyllum nodosum (L) Le Jolis In the present study we examine how epiphytic interactions between P lanosa and A nodosum vary along a wave exposure gradient within the southern Gulf of Maine, USA P lanosa was most dense on protected shores, however because the stature of P lanosa was greater on exposed than on sheltered shores, greater biomass occurred In exposed habitats Epiphytlc P lanosa pnmanly attached to inlured vegetative bssue at exposed sites, while ~ t osc currence was primarily receptacular at sheltered sites A significantly stronger correlation was found between host receptacle abundance and epiphyte abundance at a protected low than an exposed site As a result, the distribution of epiphytes along the host S stlpe vanes at different sites We suggest that changes in the distribution and abundance of P lanosa across this wave exposure gradient are highly influenced by vanations in the distribution and persistence of suitable attachment sites on the host plant Because both the quantity and quality of attachment sites vanes w t h exposure, we hypothesize that d~fferenpt rocesses limit or de t e rm~neP lanosa populations in different locations In protected sites P lanosa may be limited by the presence of adequate substrata (inlured bssue and lateral pits) where successful recruitment may occur By contrast at exposed sites the supply of P lanosa sporelings, rather than quantity of appropnate substrata, may limlt population size.
New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, Jackson Estuarine Laboratory
Marine Ecology Progress Series
Scientific Contribution Number
Levin, Phillip S. and Mathieson, Arthur C., "Variation in a host-epiphyte relationship along a wave exposure gradient" (1991). Marine Ecology Progress Series. 299.