Invasive Fucus serratus (Fucaceae, Phaeophyceae) responds to climate change along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, Canada.
The distribution and ecology of the invasive brown alga Fucus serratus along the 500 km Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, has been poorly explored. We observed significant intertidal penetration at four sites in the southwestern part of the province, and then examined numerous sites along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. Surveys of attached algae in intertidal and shallow subtidal zones and wrack show that F. serratus has become a dominant plant in the low to mid-intertidal zone and can be expected on headlands along the South Shore of Nova Scotia where it can occupy up to 40% of the intertidal zone with cover >75% and mean densities of up to 10 kg m-1. In this zone, F. serratus has replaced Chondrus crispus as the major canopy species, although C. crispus and Corallina officinalis remain primary understory species. At slightly higher elevations, F. serratus was common as an understory beneath Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus vesiculosus. While geographic spread along the Atlantic coast might reflect the natural dispersal capacity of F. serratus, we hypothesize that the ecological extension into the intertidal zone may be facilitated by harvesting of A. nodosum and by climate change in an ocean-warming hotspot.