Fauna associated with the common kelp along the Norwegian coast, Laminaria hyperborea, was sampled at four sites covering 1000 km of coastline. Exploitation of the kelp habitat by the fauna, and the ways in which habitat size and seasonal variations affect the kelp fauna community were analysed. The study focused on mobile macrofauna, of which 238 species were found on 56 kelps sampled, with an average density of almost 8000 individuals per kelp. Amphipods and gastropods were the most diverse and abundant fauna groups. The species composition was different on the lamina, stipe (with epiphytic algae) and holdfast. A similar pattern of epiphyte- and holdfast-fauna composition was found for all regions. Lowest diversity and abundance were found on the lamina, and highest diversity in the holdfast. Highest abundance was found on the stipe in summer, but there were large variations between sites and seasons, from a few individuals to more than 80 000 animals per stipe. Neither seasonal changes nor variation in habitat volume affected the number of species significantly, but abundance was significantly related to season and habitat volume. These variations were most pronounced for stipe fauna. Laminaria hyperborea offers a heterogeneous habitat exploited by a diverse and abundant invertebrate community, its abundance depending on local and regional variations in kelp size.
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