Nitrogen is the major growth-limiting nutrient for marine algae. One potential source of nitrogen for marine algae is ammonium released by invertebrates. Many mid-intertidal reefs in northeastern New Zealand are dominated by a close association between the honeycomb barnacle Chamaesipho columna and an encusting brown alga Pseudolithoderma sp. Growth of Pseudolithoderma was enhanced in the presence of live C. columna, which released ammonium at a greater rate than the maximum rate of ammonium uptake by Pseudolithoderma. Algal tissue on barnacle tests had a lower C:N ratio than tissue located more than 2 cm from the nearest barnacle, suggesting the barnacle is an important source of nitrogen for the alga. The role of nutrient exchange in determining ecological patterns of species in marine communities is discussed.
- Marine macro-algae Nutritional interaction
- Nitrogen limitation