Early colonization on Artificial Seagrass Units and on Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile leaves

Dorothée C. Pête, Gilles Lepoint, Jean-Marie Bouquegneau, Sylvie Gobert

Abstract


Many epiphytes grow on Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile leaves but early stages of that colonization are not well known. To study this early colonization without destroying the plant, Artificial Seagrass Units (ASUs) were utilised. The first nine days of colonization by macroscopic eukaryotic organisms on natural P. oceanica leaves and on ASUs were studied. The capability of those ASUs to mimic P. oceanica in the long term was also evaluated. Indeed, early colonists of a substrate can influence the settling of later ones by “priority effects”. Thus if the pioneer community is the same on both substrates, they will more likely be the same after a longer exposure time. On both substrates, colonization began by the settling of crustose-calcareous algae and foraminiferans. The number of organisms increased more quickly on ASUs than on natural leaves but Shannon-Wiener diversity index was higher for P. oceanica leaves. The low colonization rate on natural leaves may have been due to different microclimatic conditions on the two substrates and to a less developed biofilm than on ASUs. The high diversity observed on natural leaves was mainly related to the presence of bryozoan ancestrulae, which were absent on ASUs. Different microhabitats on each substrate (different algae morphotypes) can explain this difference. Thus, at such an early colonization stage, pioneer communities were different on the two substrates, suggesting that later communities would be different too. However, ASUs could be used in environmental perturbation studies instead of natural leaves, thanks to their high colonization rate.

Keywords


seagrass; artificial substrata; epiphytes; colonization; substrate preferences

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.26496/bjz.2015.58

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