Amber Szoboszlai

image of Amber SzoboszlaiFacilitative Effect of Intertidal Macroalgal Cover on Pelvetiopsis recruitment

While a student at Moss Landing Marine Labs, I have been studying the facilitative effect of intertidal macroalgal canopies on the recruitment success of the intertidal alga Pelvetiopsis limitata. Intertidal algal canopies can modify physical conditions such as temperature and humidity in benthic microhabitats, impacting the survival & recruitment of algal propagules. Endocladia muricata and P. limitata coexist in a patchy distribution in the upper intertidal across much of central California. Early in my graduate career, I observed Pelvetiopsis recruits growing within the turf-like thallus of Endocladia. This observation suggested the presence of a facilitative relationship between Endocladia and Pelvetiopsis.

For my master’s thesis, I have designed a field experiment that manipulates cover of different intertidal algal species. At my study site I have established permanent plots that have been weeded to include different algal canopies: Endocladia only, Pelvetiopsis only, and Total Clearings (complete removal of algal cover). Since 2005 I have been tracking visible Pelvetiopsis recruits <1cm high in the different treatments.

Preliminary results indicate that Pelvetiopsis recruitment is enhanced by the presence of algal canopies, but that algal canopy species composition has little effect. This observation is further supported by the springtime appearance of Porphyra sp. in the plots and a subsequent high number of Pelvetiopsis recruits. Proximity and position of reproductive adult Pelvetiopsis also appear to positively influence recruitment success. This relationship between algal canopy cover and recruitment success of Pelvetiopsis has important implications for understanding patterns of species distribution and diversity.image of Porphyra with Pelvitiopsis recruit

Contact info:

Amber Szoboszlai
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
8272 Moss Landing Rd.
Moss Landing, CA 95039-9647
Phone #: 831-771-4421
Fax #: 831-632-4403