Abstract Ocean acidification studies in the past decade have greatly improved our knowledge of how calcifying organisms respond to increased surface ocean CO2 levels. It has become evident that, for many organisms, nutri- ent availability is an important factor that influences their physiological responses and competitive interactions with other species. Therefore, we tested how simulated ocean acidification and eutrophication (nitrate and phosphate enrichment) interact to affect the physiology and ecology of a calcifying chlorophyte macroalga (Halimeda opuntia(L.) J.V. Lamouroux) and its common noncalcifying epi- phyte (Dictyota sp.) in a 4-week fully crossed multifacto- rial experiment. Inorganic nutrient enrichment (+NP) had a strong influence on all responses measured with the excep- tion of net calcification. Elevated CO2 alone significantly decreased electron transport rates of the photosynthetic apparatus and resulted in phosphorus limitation in both spe- cies, but had no effect on oxygen production or respiration. The combination of CO2 and +NP significantly increased electron transport rates in both species. While +NP alone stimulated H. opuntia growth rates, Dictyota growth was significantly stimulated by nutrient enrichment only at elevated CO2, which led to the highest biomass ratios of Dictyota to Halimeda. Our results suggest that inorganic nutrient enrichment alone stimulates several aspects of H. opuntia physiology, but nutrient enrichment at a CO2 con- centration predicted for the end of the century benefits Dic- tyota sp. and hinders its calcifying basibiont H. opuntia.
The mechanisms by which algae disperse across space on coral reefs are poorly known. We inves- tigated the ability of four common Caribbean herbivorous fish species to disperse viable algal fragments through consumption of macroalgae and subsequent defecation. Fragments of all major algal taxa (Phaeophyta, Rhodophyta, and Chlorophyta) were found in 98.7 % of the fecal droppings of all fish species; however, the ability to survive gut passage and reattach to a substrate differed between algal taxa. While survival and reattachment approached zero for Phaeophyta and Chlorophyta, 76.4 % of the fragments belonging to the group Rhodophyta (mostly species in the order Gelidiaceae) survived gut passage, and were able to grow and reattach to the substrate by forming new rhizoids. Our results thus show that Gelidid algal species are dispersed by swimming herbivores. While the relative contribution of this mechanism to overall algal dispersal and recruitment in a wider ecological context remains unknown, our findings illustrate a previously undescribed mechanism of algal dispersal on coral reefs which is analogous to the dispersal of terrestrial plants, plant fragments, and seeds via herbivore ingestion and defecation.