Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt is an invasive species that is firmly established on intertidal and subtidal rocky shores of Europe and the Pacific coast of North America. Local success and spread of S. muticum is thought to rely on its reproductive potential that seems dependent on exogenous factors like tidal and lunar cycles. This study is the first to compare the reproductive patterns (periodicity of egg expulsion and embryo settlement) of this invader in two different habitats: the middle and low intertidal. The combination of monthly, daily, and tidal samples at triplicate sites within each habitat showed a semilunar periodicity of egg expulsion and embryo settlement coincident with increasing tidal amplitude just before full and new moons. In both habitats, duration of each egg expulsion event was ∼1 week, and embryo settlement occurred during the first daily low tide and with the incoming high tide during spring tides. However, both expulsion and settlement started 1-2 d earlier, expulsion saturation was faster, and settlement was higher in the mid- compared to the low intertidal. Our results suggest that the exact timing of gamete expulsion and embryo release of S. muticum responds to local factors, including tidal cues, which result in differences between mid- and low-intertidal habitats.
Keywords: Sargassum muticum; egg expulsion periodicity; embryo settlement periodicity; reproductive ecology; tidal and lunar cycles.
© 2009 Phycological Society of America.