Factors influencing algal species assemblages on reef and cobble substrata off Ghana
Subtidal algal assemblages were studied on two substrata, rocky reefs and calcareous cobbles. Although the two occur together at comparable depths, their vegetation differs in species composition and richness, and in patterns of plant size, life form, and longevity. The reef bears a species-rich, patchy cover of small filamentous and crustose forms, with occasional clumps of more robust species. The cobbles support a sparse cover of large leafy and dendritic species in addition to many of the smaller species found on the reef. The floristic separation arises from differential establishment and survival of species under conditions of (1) grazing by fish and urchins (on the reef only), and (2) seasonal physical disturbance during storms leading to the removal of most algae (on the cobbles only). Both substrata show a seasonal floristic cycle, but the trend is more pronounced on cobbles. Species do not depart from randomness in their patterns of co-occurrence on individual cobbles or reef fragments. Interspecific competition appears comparatively unimportant in determining species composition on either substratum.
Read full paper https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-0981(84)90177-1