Modeling the effects of abiotic and biotic factors on the depth distribution of Fucus vesiculosus in the Baltic Sea

Nikolaos Alexandridis, Andreas Oschlies, Martin Wahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The conspicuous retreat of the key species Fucus vesiculosus from the deeper parts of its former distribution area in the Baltic Sea has triggered extensive research on the factors that control its growth. Based on recently obtained knowledge on a large number of potential drivers, we developed a numerical model incorporating effects of abiotic factors on the physiological functions of photosynthesis, respiration, and reproduction and the ecological processes of competition, grazing, and epibiosis. For all input combinations, the model delivers the monthly net growth rate near the bladder wrack's depth limit and the maximum depth of its vertical distribution. The use of data corresponding to conditions presently observed in the western Baltic Sea sets the year's maximum algal net growth rate in late spring and 2 minima in early spring and autumn. The depth limit of the wrack's distribution is set at ~9 m. Light and its absorption by phytoplankton represent by far the most important factors controlling the modeled net growth rate and depth penetration, with the role of epibiosis requiring further investigation. Lacking findings on population dynamics and biotic interactions restrict the generated model to an exploratory rather than a predictive tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-72
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Ecology - Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Aug 30
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ecology

Free keywords

  • Benthic ecology
  • Biotic interactions
  • Bladder wrack
  • Depth limit
  • Ecological modeling
  • Eutrophication
  • Fucus physiology


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