The Importance of Propagule Dispersal in Maintaining Local Populations of Rare Algae on Complex Coastlines: Padina pavonica on the South Coast of England
Authors: Herbert, R.J.H., Willis, J. and Baugh, J.
On dynamic coastlines, populations of protected algal species with poor dispersal might be especially vulnerable to infrequent recruitment events and local extinction. As a model, we here consider the dispersal of the alga Padina pavonica from the largest remaining and physically isolated enclaves on the south coast of England. A bio-physical model was used to investigate the likely importance of local propagule dispersal in maintaining populations. Dispersal kernels that simulate the position of propagules at different time steps over 5 days were examined from five release sites.
Exceptionally steep declines in model propagule density were observed over the first few hours from release, yet over the first day, 75–85% of model propagules remained close to their source but had not reached other enclaves. After five days, the dispersal from source populations ranged from 0 to 50 km, with only ~5% remaining within the source 1 km2 area. Although distances of modelled propagule dispersal might be adequate for maintaining a regional population network, vegetative perrenation also appears to be important for persistence of P. pavonica. For rare and protected species on isolated and energetic coastlines, local conservation efforts, rather than a reliance on a wider meta-population network, remain very important to ensure long-term protection and survival.