Biodiversity of Kelp Forests and Coralline Algae Habitats in Southwestern Greenland
Rea, Brice R.
All marine communities in Greenland are experiencing rapid environmental change, and to understand the effects on those structured by seaweeds, baseline records are vital. The kelp and coralline algae habitats along Greenland’s coastlines are rarely studied, and we fill this knowledge gap for the area around Nuuk, west Greenland. Using subtidal swath surveys, photo-quadrats, and grab samples, we characterised the diversity of floral and faunal assemblages in kelp forests and coralline algae beds. The most abundant herbivore assemblages and the most diverse communities occur in the interstitial habitats of rhodolith beds. In kelp forests, species diversity is higher in epi-benthic (photo-quadrat) and mid-water (swath) surveys. These habitats are not mutually exclusive; Agarum clathratum is prominent in coralline algal habitats, while crustose coralline algae cover the bedrock under kelp holdfasts. Overall, the suite of surveys used capture the diverse communities within kelp forests and coralline algae in Greenland and their differing role in the life history of the inhabitants. Furthermore, coralline algae beds are an important carbonate store, with CaCO3 concentrations ranging from 28.06 to 103.73 g·m−3. Our research sets the baseline for continued investigations and monitoring of these important habitats and their supported fisheries.