Patterns of abundance and assemblage structure of epifauna inhabiting two morphologically different kelp holdfasts
The mobile fauna associated with two sympatric kelp species with different holdfast morphology ( Saccorhiza polyschides and Laminaria hyperborea ) was compared to test for differences in the assemblage structure of holdfast-associated mobile epifauna. A total of 24,140 epifaunal individuals were counted from 30 holdfasts of each kelp species. Overall epifaunal abundances exceeded faunal abundances previously reported from holdfasts of other kelps. Three taxonomic groups, Amphipoda, Mollusca, and Polychaeta, accounted for ca. 85% of all individuals. Total abundances increased with the amount of habitat available, quantified either as the volume or the area provided by the holdfasts. The multivariate structure of the epifaunal assemblage did not differ between holdfasts of the two kelp species. However, epifaunal assemblages responded differentially to the habitat attributes provided by each type of kelp holdfast: multivariate variation in the assemblage structure of epifauna was mostly explained by holdfast area and volume for L. hyperborea , and by the surface-to-volume ratio for S. polyschides holdfasts. Therefore, the physical attributes of biogenic habitats, here kelp holdfasts that better predict patterns in the assemblage structure of associated fauna can differ according to their different physical morphology, even though the overall assemblage structure of associated fauna was similar.