Background: Anthropogenic activities are believed to have caused an increase in the magnitude, frequency, and extent of macroalgal blooms in marine and estuarine environments. These blooms may contribute to declines in seagrasses and non-blooming macroalgal beds, increasing hypoxia, and reductions in the diversity of benthic invertebrates. However, they may also provide other marine organisms with food and habitat, increase secondary production, and reduce eutrophication. The objective of this systematic review will be to quantify the positive and negative impacts of anthropogenically induced macroalgal blooms in order to determine their effects on ecosystem structure and functioning, and to identify factors that cause their effects to vary. Methods: We will search a number of online databases to gather empirical evidence from the literature on the impacts of macroalgal blooms on: (1) species richness and other univariate measures of biodiversity; (2) productivity and abundance of algae, plants, and animals; and (3) biogeochemical cycling and other flows of energy and materials, including trophic interactions and cross-ecosystem subsidies. Data from relevant studies will be extracted and used in a random effects meta-analysis in order to estimate the average effect of macroalgal blooms on each response of interest. Where possible, sub-group analyses will be conducted in order to evaluate how the effects of macroalgal blooms vary according to: (1) which part of the ecosystem is being studied (e.g. which habitat type, taxonomic group, or trophic level); (2) the size of blooms; (3) the region in which blooms occurred; (4) background levels of ecosystem productivity; (5) physical and chemical conditions; (6) aspects of study design and quality (e.g. lab vs. field, experimental vs. observational, degree of replication); and (7) whether the blooms are believed to be anthropogenically induced or not.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to thank Christos Arvanitidis, Andrew Blight, Eva Chatzinikolaou, Tamar Guy-Haim, Paul Somerfield, and Ana Queiros for discussions that have influenced the content of this protocol, and for their help in carrying it out. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement No. 266445 for the project Vectors of Change in Oceans and Seas Marine Life, Impact on Economic Sectors (VECTORS), which is coordinated by Mel Austen.
© 2012 Lyons et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law