Highly diverse microphyto and meiobenthic communities are associated with large-sized marine macroalgae. Both morphological traits and allelochemical responses of macroalgae affect the composition of these communities, but the relative importance of these factors remains incompletely understood. In this study we investigated the microphytobenthic and meiobenthic communities associated with some native macroalgae and a non-indigenous species (Sargassum muticum) of the north-western Adriatic Sea. These seaweeds were sampled in two coastal sites subjected to different impacts. The possible effects of the structural complexity of the macroalgae and the potential role of allelochemicals (specifically polyunsaturated aldehydes, PUAs) on the associated communities were examined using univariate and multivariate analyses. The results indicate that distinct assemblages were associated with the macroalgae collected at the two different sites. Differences in microphytobenthic communities could be ascribed to differences in the macroalgal morphological traits and in their PUAs production. Conversely, variation of the meiobenthic community seemed to be related mainly to differences in the macroalgal communities at the two sites. This apparent inconsistency between the two analyzed communities suggests that microphytobenthos and meiofauna were differently shaped by the environmental habitat provided by macroalgae in the two sites, that are subjected to different environmental conditions and human activities. Overall, these results indicate that interactions between organisms belonging to different trophic groups (e.g., microphytobenthos and meiofauna) should be investigated in detail to better understand the global role of macroalgae as habitat formers on coastal ecosystems, especially in the case of large-sized introduced species.
Understanding the role of macroalgal complexity and allelochemicals production in invasive and non-invasive macroalgae in the north-western Adriatic Sea: effect on the associated communities / Lenzo, D.; Colangelo, M. A.; Pasteris, A.; Rindi, F.; Pistocchi, R.; Pezzolesi, L.. - In: WATER. - ISSN 2073-4441. - ELETTRONICO. - 15:1697(2023), pp. 1-26. [10.3390/w15091697]