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Abundance and Size Distribution of the Sacoglossan Elysia viridis on Co-Occurring Algal Hosts on the Swedish West Coast

Journal article
Authors Finn A. Baumgartner
Gunilla B. Toth
Published in PLoS ONE
Volume 9
Issue 3
Pages artikel nr e92472
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication year 2014
Published at Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology (CEMEB)
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory
Centre for Marine Chemical Ecology
Pages artikel nr e92472
Language en
Links dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.00...
Subject categories Biological Sciences


Sacoglossans are specialized marine herbivores that tend to have a close evolutionary relationship with their macroalgal hosts, but the widely distributed species Elysia viridis can associate with several algal species. However, most previous investigations on the field abundance and size distribution of E. viridis have focussed on Codium spp. in the British Isles, and algae from this genus are considered superior hosts for E. viridis. In the present study, we investigated the abundance and size distribution of E. viridis on 6 potential host algae with differing morphologies (the septate species Cladophora sericea, Cladophora rupestris, Chaetomorpha melagonium, and Ceramium virgatum, as well as the siphonaceous species Codium fragile and Bryopsis sp.) at 2 sites on the Swedish west coast over the course of a year. In spring, slugs were almost absent from all algal hosts. In summer and autumn, E. viridis consistently occurred on several of the algal species at both sites. The highest number of small E. viridis were found on C. sericea, intermediate numbers of significantly larger E. viridis were found on C. rupestris, while fewer, intermediate sized animals were found on C. fragile. Throughout the study period, only a few E. viridis individuals were found on C. melagonium, Bryopsis sp., and C. virgatum. Our results indicate that E. viridis is an annual species in Sweden, capable of exploiting co-occurring congeneric and intergeneric algal hosts with differing morphologies. These results corroborate previous findings that E. viridis can exploit several different algal species, but does not indicate that C. fragile is a superior host.

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