Marine Biology

, Volume 143, Issue 6, pp 1201–1211 | Cite as

The role of grazing by the lysianassid amphipod Orchomenella aahu in dieback of the kelp Ecklonia radiata in north-eastern New Zealand

  • T. R. HaggittEmail author
  • R. C. Babcock


The lysianassid amphipod Orchomenella aahu was associated with small-scale mass mortality of Ecklonia radiata, the dominant laminarian alga in north-eastern New Zealand. O. aahu burrowed into and hollowed out stipes with severe bleaching, accelerating mortality by 12–14 months. Meristoderm tissue of bleached plants contained approximately one-third of the phlorotannin content (~4% dry mass) present in unbleached, apparently healthier, sporophytes (~12% dry mass). Unbleached stages consistently lacked amphipod damage. O. aahu also colonised plants when non-lethal storm damage afforded entry into the cortical layers of the primary lamina, and ultimately the stipe. O. aahu typically consumed both medullary and cortical tissue of the stipes, forming networked brood-chambers within them, with increasing populations often reducing the plant to the holdfast. There was synchronised mortality across sites and between depths over spatial scales of metres. Following loss of the mature canopy, recruitment of E. radiata was generally within 2 months at most study sites where mortality had occurred.


Feeding Assay Medullary Tissue Permanent Quadrats Phlorotannin Content Bleached Area 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank Dr. J. Lowry for amphipod identification, G. Nesbit for assistance in the field, and Drs. R.B. Taylor and R.G. Cole for invaluable assistance throughout this study. We are grateful to the two anonymous referees for their comments and contributions. The experiments comply with the current laws of New Zealand.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leigh Marine LaboratoryUniversity of AucklandWarkworthNew Zealand
  2. 2.CSIRO Marine ResearchWembleyAustralia

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