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Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Experimental plot with Gracilaria comosa (image Thomas Wernberg)
A collaborative project between ECU students Thibaut de Bettignies & Bastien Debeuf with Dr Mads Thomsen, Dr Thomas Wernberg and Dr Marianne Holmer was published recently. The study was conducted in the Swan River and tested for ecological effect of the drift algae Gracilaria comosa on the seagrass Halophila ovalis and the seagrass’ associated fauna. As expected, the drift algae had a strong negative effect on the seagrass, reducing leaf densities 20-40%. Perhaps more surprisingly, at the same time the algae facilitated most seagrass-associated invertebrates, likely by providing food and shelter from predators.
Thomsen MS, de Bettignies T, Wernberg T, Holmer M, Debeuf B (2012) Harmful algae are not harmful to everyone. Harmful Algae 16:74-80 www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568988312000352
Thanks to its original findings, this work benefited from media coverage in Science Network Western Australia under the title: Algae growth double-edged sword for Swan River biome. www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/fisheries-a-water/item/1330-algae-growth-double-edged-sword-for-swan-river-biome