Document Type


Date of Original Version



Biological Sciences


Herbivore impacts on macrophyte growth vary with the identity of the herbivores and macrophytes, as well as under different abiotic conditions. This interaction is further complicated by anthropogenic alterations to the environment, such as eutrophication. In this study, we utilized in situ herbivore exclusion experiments and mesocosm feeding preference assays to examine the impacts of different herbivores on the growth of two morphologically similar, co-occurring macroalgal bloom Ulva species in a nutrient-rich environment. We found that herbivory had a measurable impact on Ulva biomass, though the rate of consumption rarely surpassed growth for either Ulva species. We determined that the primary herbivores within the blooms were amphipods and mud crabs, and that their effects varied among study sites and months. Our results also confirmed that, even with a diverse suite of consumers, Ulva blooms are capable of escaping herbivore control, particularly early in the growing season when growth rates peak and herbivore activity is limited. Furthermore, our experiments revealed species-specific feeding preferences among herbivores, as well as differences in growth rates and chemistry between the two Ulva species, which likely influence bloom dynamics.