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Population ecology of Palmaria palmata (Palmariales, Rhodophyta) from harvested and non-harvested shores on Digby Neck, Nova Scotia, Canada

  • Garbary, David J. (Department of Biology, St. Francis Xavier University) ;
  • Beveridge, Leah F. (Department of Biology, St. Francis Xavier University) ;
  • Flynn, Andrea D. (Department of Biology, St. Francis Xavier University) ;
  • White, Katelyn L. (Department of Biology, St. Francis Xavier University)
  • Received : 2011.12.26
  • Accepted : 2012.02.29
  • Published : 2012.03.15

Abstract

Population ecology of Palmaria palmata is described from the intertidal zone of Digby Neck and adjacent islands of Nova Scotia. The primary objectives were: to evaluate the difference in habitat specialization and population structure of P. palmata between harvest and non-harvest shores, and to characterize differences in thallus structure and frond sizes between epilithic and epiphytic populations. Harvest shores were gently sloping boulder fields with boulders typically about 0.5-1.0 m with dense cover of P. palmata on many of the rocks. Non-harvest shores (with or without P. palmata) consisted of boulders that were smaller or larger than harvest shores, or bedrock; when P. palmata was present on nonharvest sites it was typically epiphytic on other algae (e.g., Fucus spp., Mastocarpus stellatus, Devaleraea ramentacea). Harvestable epiphytic populations occurred only in high current areas. While there was little difference in average cover of P. palmata harvest and non-harvest shores ($31.2{\pm}13.7%$ vs. $19.4{\pm}7.3%$, mean ${\pm}$ standard deviation [SD]), the cover of P. palmata on harvest shores was highly skewed such that individual boulders often had >90% cover while adjacent rocks had little. Frond length of large fronds was greater on harvested shores, and mean frond density ($g\;m^{-2}$) was three times higher than the mean density on the non-harvested shores. Frond lengths of entire epiphytic and epilithic frond complements of 119 thalli from harvest beaches showed no difference in mean size of the largest fronds, and no difference in frond number per holdfast when epiphytic and epilithic thalli were compared.

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