Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 8, 2013

Changes in brown seaweed distributions in Lough Hyne, SW Ireland: a long-term perspective

Cynthia D. Trowbridge, Colin Little, Brittney Dlouhy-Massengale, Penny Stirling and Graham M. Pilling
From the journal Botanica Marina


Distributions of brown seaweeds (Phaeophyceae: Fucales, Laminariales and Tilopteridales) were surveyed in 2011 in Europe’s first marine reserve, Lough Hyne in SW Ireland, and compared with distributions from three historical surveys (1930, 1955 and 1980). The most salient phycological differences were the incursion of the low intertidal and shallow subtidal species Fucus serratus, Himanthalia elongata and Saccharina latissima into the north basin of the marine reserve after the recent mass mortality of the purple urchin (Paracentrotus lividus). Monitoring surveys (1990–2012) at ten sites in the lough indicated that populations of S. latissima peaked in 1994, abruptly crashed in 1996 and then slowly recovered. As well as documenting the expansion of kelp, our annual, whole-lough snorkel surveys (2004–2012) demonstrated the recent proliferation of the introduced Sargassum muticum and native Cystoseira foeniculacea. Although the causal role of top-down factors (fishing ban and/or urchin population crash), bottom-up factors (nutrient enhancement), climatic variables (warming vs. episodic cooling) and pathogens (urchin and algal) is being widely debated, decadal-scale and inter-annual changes are clearly detectable and most consistent with a release from herbivory within the marine protected area.

Corresponding author: Cynthia D. Trowbridge, Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, PO Box 5389, Charleston, OR 97420, USA

We are grateful to Declan O’Donnell and Patrick Graham of the National Parks and Wildlife Service for permission to carry out scientific research in the Lough Hyne Marine Reserve. We are particularly grateful for help received from the late warden of the lough, John Bohane, and we were much helped by information and assistance from our UCC colleague Rob McAllen and many European colleagues. Hal Ross and the Hunrunrs provided continual encouragement and support throughout the project. Over the period of the surveys, we are indebted to the following colleagues (listed alphabetically) for their field help: K. Bennett, M. Consalvey, T. Crowe, T. Horton, A. Laferriere, J. Lord, A. Miles, D. Morritt, M. Paulling, S. Phillips, S. Schroeder, L. Teagle, J. Thain, V. Thain, G. Williams and M. Wolf. We thank two anonymous reviewers and Matt Dring for their valuable and constructive comments on an earlier draft of this paper. This material is based upon work partially supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0211186 and 1130978-OISE as well as the National Parks and Wildlife Service of Ireland. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Received: 2013-4-9
Accepted: 2013-7-4
Published Online: 2013-08-08
Published in Print: 2013-08-01

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