Rhodolith bed structure along a depth gradient on the northern coast of bahia state, brazil


The aim of this study was to determine the structure of a rhodolith bed along a depth gradient of 5 to 25 m in the shelf in front of Salvador City, a region of northeastern Brazil. The dimensions, morphology and coralline algae composition of the rhodoliths were analyzed, as well as the vitality, density, and associated flora of the bed at three depths: 5, 15 and 25 m. Samples were obtained by SCUBA divers in summer 2007. Five rhodolith-forming taxa were identified: Sporolithon episporum, Lithothamnion brasiliense, Lithothamnion superpositum, Mesophyllum erubescens, and Lithophyllum sp. The encrusting growth form and the spherical shape were predominant at all depths. Rhodolith dimensions and vitality decreased and the density increased from the shallow to the deepest zones. Fifty-six macroalgal species were found as rhodolith-associated flora. The shallower depth presented higher values for macroalgal biomass and number of species. These results associated with other recent rhodolith bed descriptions indicate that the pattern of Brazilian rhodolith bed structure along depth gradients may be related to a combination of the extent and slope of the continental shelf

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