Occurrence of the siphonophore Muggiaea atlantica in Scottish coastal waters: source or sink?
We applied the concept of source–sink dynamics to investigate a recent (1999–2013) increase in the occurrence of the siphonophore Muggiaea atlantica in Scottish coastal waters. Our aim was to determine whether this change represented the establishment of resident populations (i.e. “sources”), or transient populations reliant on immigration (i.e. “sinks”). First, we show that local production was not always sufficient to account for recruitment (a “source” prerequisite), suggesting reliance on immigration (a “sink” prerequisite). Using variation partitioning, we then discriminated between the exclusive effects of immigration [indexed by the European Slope Current (ESC)] and local production (indexed by local sea temperature and food availability). On the west coast (Loch Ewe), interannual variability in the species’ abundance was determined by, in order of increasing importance: (i) suitable local environmental conditions (13%); (ii) the role of the ESC in modulating these conditions (20%); and (iii) immigration via the ESC (29%). These results provided a strong indication that Loch Ewe represents a sink habitat for M. atlantica . However, on the east coast (Stonehaven) our results were less conclusive, probably due to the less direct influence of the ESC. For both locations, we suggest that low winter temperatures prevented overwintering, necessitating annual re-colonization via immigration.
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