“Monitoring Sites 1000” – Japan's long-term monitoring survey was established in 2003, based on the Japanese Government policy for the conservation of biodiversity. Ecological surveys have been conducted on various types of ecosystems at approximately 1000 sites in Japan for 15 years now and are planned to be carried out for 100 years. Since 2008, seaweed communities had been monitored at six sites, featuring the kelp (e.g. Saccharina and Ecklonia; Laminariales) and Sargassum (Fucales) communities in the subarctic and temperate regions of Japan. Annual surveys were carried out during the season when these canopy-forming seaweeds are most abundant. A non-destructive quadrat sampling method, with permanent quadrats placed along transects perpendicular to the shoreline, was used to determine species composition, coverage, and vertical distribution of seaweeds at these sites; while destructive sampling was done every 5 years to determine biomass. The occurrence of canopy-forming species Saccharina japonica (var. japonica) and Ecklonia cava have appeared to be stable at the Muroran (southwestern part of Hokkaido Island) and Shimoda (Pacific coast of middle Honshu Island) sites, respectively; whereas the coverage of Ecklonia radicosa (= Eckloniopsis radicosa) at the Satsuma-Nagashima site in southern part of Kyushu Island was highly variable until its sudden disappearance from the habitat in 2016. Thalli of E. radicosa lost most of their blades through browsing by herbivorous fish, and thus, this may be one of the causes of the decline. A shift in the community structure related to environmental changes had also been observed at some other sites. Pre- and post-disaster data revealed the impact of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters, including a shift in the vertical distribution of Ecklonia bicyclis (= Eisenia bicyclis) to shallower depths at the Shizugawa site in the Pacific coast of northern Honshu Island, due to seafloor subsidence.
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