Scientia Marina, Vol 73, No 3 (2009)

Use of hierarchical designs to detect scales of heterogeneity in the invasive species Sargassum muticum

Celia Olabarria
Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Universidad de Vigo, Spain

Francesca Rossi
Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Ivan F. Rodil
Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Universidad de Vigo, Spain

Patricia Quintas
Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Universidad de Vigo, Spain

Jesús S. Troncoso
Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Universidad de Vigo, Spain


Invasion of alien species poses serious threats to many ecosystems. Despite the potential of Sargassum muticum to spread and invade new areas, no attention has been given to the study of variability of structural or morphological features across different spatial scales. We employed a hierarchical sampling design to examine patterns of spatial variability of fertility and morphological variables of S. muticum over different spatial scales (quadrats, sites, locations, rias) ranging from metres to tens of kilometres We repeated the sampling in March, April and July to test for the consistency of patterns through time. There was no variability between rias (tens of kilometres apart), but substantial differences occurred at the other scales examined. Fertility and percent cover varied between locations (1.5-3 km apart), whereas morphological variables varied between sites (tens of metres apart) and quadrats (metres apart). Furthermore, patterns of variation were not consistent over time. The study demonstrated the importance of a multi-scale sampling programme for monitoring seaweed invasion.


spatial scale; morphology; fertility; distribution; invasion success; Galician coast; Sargassum muticum

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