Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 18, Issue 3–5, pp 619–627 | Cite as

The Role of Encrusting Coralline Algae in the Diets of Selected Intertidal Herbivores

  • Gavin W. Maneveldt
  • Deborah Wilby
  • Michelle Potgieter
  • Martin G. J. Hendricks


Kalk Bay, South Africa, has a typical south coast zonation pattern with a band of seaweed dominating the mid-eulittoral and between two molluscan-herbivore dominated upper and lower eulittoral zones. Encrusting coralline algae were very obvious features of these zones. The most abundant herbivores in the upper eulittoral were the limpet, Cymbula oculus (10.4 ± 1.6 individuals m−2; 201.65 ± 32.68 g.m−2) and the false limpet, Siphonaria capensis (97.07± 19.92 individuals m−2; 77.93 16.02 g.m−2). The territorial gardening limpet, Scutellastra cochlear, dominated the lower eulittoral zone, achieving very high densities (545.27 ± 84.35 m−2) and biomass (4630.17 ± 556.13 g.m−2), and excluded all other herbivores and most seaweeds, except for its garden alga and the encrusting coralline alga, Spongites yendoi (35.93 ± 2.26% cover). In the upper eulittoral zone, encrusting coralline algae were only present in the guts of the chiton Acanthochiton garnoti (30.5 ± 1.33%) and the limpet C. oculus (2.9 ± 0.34%). The lower eulittoral zone limpet, Scutellastra cochlear also had a large percentage of encrusting coralline algae in its gut with limpets lacking gardens having higher (45.1 ± 1.68%) proportions of coralline algae in their guts than those with gardens (25.6 ± 0.8%). Encrusting coralline algae had high organic contents, similar to those of other encrusting and turf-forming algae, but higher organic contents than foliose algae. Radula structure, grazing frequencies as a percentage of the area grazed (upper eulittoral 73.25 ± 3.60% d−1; lower eulittoral 46.0 ± 3.29% d−1), and algal organic content provided evidence to support the dietary habits of the above herbivores. The data show that many intertidal molluscs are actively consuming encrusting coralline algae and that these seaweeds should be seen as an important food source.

Key words

encrusting coralline algae diet grazers herbivory organic content rocky shore 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gavin W. Maneveldt
    • 1
  • Deborah Wilby
    • 1
  • Michelle Potgieter
    • 1
  • Martin G. J. Hendricks
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biodiversity and Conservation BiologyUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa

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