Monday, 5 August 2013

Collecting seaweeds in the Ythan Estuary

Today, several members of the Algae Group explored the Ythan Estuary, just at the doorstep of Oceanlab, looking for Ectocarpus sp. in support of Ásta Heiðrún Pétursdóttir’s PhD project (with Prof. Joerg Feldmann, Aberdeen). The Ythan Estuary is the tidal component of the Ythan River, emptying into the North Sea 19 kilometres north of Aberdeen, Scotland. Besides the tidal channel there are interfaces to the upland dunes including mudflats, sand beaches and shingle flats. The Ythan Estuary is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and appears as site no. 939 on the Ramsar list of wetlands of international importance with Meikle Loch.

Alexandra Mystikou, Frithjof Kuepper and Kyle Fletcher

As we observed, the seaweed biodiversity increases as you walk from Oceanlab closer to the marine environment of the estuary. Some of the taxa that we observed are Ulva sp., Fucus vesiculosus and Fucus distichus, which occur quite far towards the interior of the estuary (i.e. with a strong freshwater influenced environment). As we went further towards where it enters the North Sea, we saw a salt marsh with Salicornia sp. (a salt-tolerant higher plant), and gradually observed more and more seaweeds as we were approaching fully marine conditions: Alaria esculenta (a kelp species / member of the Laminariales), Desmarestia aculeata, Porphyra sp., Punctaria sp., Palmaria palmata and Fucus serratus.

July 25, 2013
Ásta Heiðrún Pétursdóttir, Frithjof Kuepper and Kyle Fletcher

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