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Macroalgae contribute to the diet of Patella vulgata from contrasting conditions of latitude and wave exposure in the UK

Macroalgae contribute to the diet of Patella vulgata from contrasting conditions of latitude and wave exposure in the UK
Macroalgae contribute to the diet of Patella vulgata from contrasting conditions of latitude and wave exposure in the UK
Analysis of gut contents and stable isotope composition of intertidal limpets (Patella vulgata) showed a major contribution of macroalgae to their diet, along with microalgae and invertebrates. Specimens were collected in areas with limited access to attached macroalgae, suggesting a major dietary component of drift algae. Gut contents of 480 animals from 2 moderately wave-exposed and 2 sheltered rocky shores in each of 2 regions (western Scotland, 55-56°N; and southwest England, 50°N), were analysed in 2 years (n = 30 site-1 yr-1). The abundance of microalgae, macroalgae and invertebrates within the guts was quantified using categorical abundance scales. Gut content composition was compared among regions and wave exposure conditions, showing that the diet of P. vulgata changes with both wave exposure and latitude. Microalgae were most abundant in limpet gut contents in animals from southwestern sites, whilst leathery/corticated macroalgae were more prevalent and abundant in limpets from sheltered and northern sites. P. vulgata appears to have a more flexible diet than previously appreciated, and these keystone grazers consume not only microalgae, but also large quantities of macroalgae and small invertebrates. To date, limpet grazing studies have focussed on their role in controlling recruitment of macroalgae by feeding on microscopic propagules and germlings. Consumption of adult algae suggests that P. vulgata may also directly control the biomass of attached macroalgae on the shore, whilst consumption of drift algae indicates that the species may play important roles in coupling subtidal and intertidal production.
Stable isotope, Gut contents analysis, Limpet, Trophic ecology, Fucus, Ascophyllum, Rocky shore
113-123
Notman, G.M.
e874b4bd-3429-4bf2-8d3e-c2084a09ad62
McGill, R.A.R.
0285de4a-aca9-4491-8b9d-69e4164e221b
Hawkins, S.J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa
Burrows, M.T.
89ce4c9d-01e6-4ae8-a4a2-5a0d8bb09ec2
Notman, G.M.
e874b4bd-3429-4bf2-8d3e-c2084a09ad62
McGill, R.A.R.
0285de4a-aca9-4491-8b9d-69e4164e221b
Hawkins, S.J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa
Burrows, M.T.
89ce4c9d-01e6-4ae8-a4a2-5a0d8bb09ec2

Notman, G.M., McGill, R.A.R., Hawkins, S.J. and Burrows, M.T. (2016) Macroalgae contribute to the diet of Patella vulgata from contrasting conditions of latitude and wave exposure in the UK. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 549, 113-123. (doi:10.3354/meps11691).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Analysis of gut contents and stable isotope composition of intertidal limpets (Patella vulgata) showed a major contribution of macroalgae to their diet, along with microalgae and invertebrates. Specimens were collected in areas with limited access to attached macroalgae, suggesting a major dietary component of drift algae. Gut contents of 480 animals from 2 moderately wave-exposed and 2 sheltered rocky shores in each of 2 regions (western Scotland, 55-56°N; and southwest England, 50°N), were analysed in 2 years (n = 30 site-1 yr-1). The abundance of microalgae, macroalgae and invertebrates within the guts was quantified using categorical abundance scales. Gut content composition was compared among regions and wave exposure conditions, showing that the diet of P. vulgata changes with both wave exposure and latitude. Microalgae were most abundant in limpet gut contents in animals from southwestern sites, whilst leathery/corticated macroalgae were more prevalent and abundant in limpets from sheltered and northern sites. P. vulgata appears to have a more flexible diet than previously appreciated, and these keystone grazers consume not only microalgae, but also large quantities of macroalgae and small invertebrates. To date, limpet grazing studies have focussed on their role in controlling recruitment of macroalgae by feeding on microscopic propagules and germlings. Consumption of adult algae suggests that P. vulgata may also directly control the biomass of attached macroalgae on the shore, whilst consumption of drift algae indicates that the species may play important roles in coupling subtidal and intertidal production.

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Accepted/In Press date: 1 April 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 10 May 2016
Published date: 10 May 2016
Keywords: Stable isotope, Gut contents analysis, Limpet, Trophic ecology, Fucus, Ascophyllum, Rocky shore
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 394175
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/394175
PURE UUID: 8b0926be-2b79-430d-b67f-2e41f2297366

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Date deposited: 11 May 2016 14:32
Last modified: 08 Jan 2022 00:48

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Contributors

Author: G.M. Notman
Author: R.A.R. McGill
Author: S.J. Hawkins
Author: M.T. Burrows

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