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Resilience of seagrass populations to thermal stress does not reflect regional differences in ocean climate


Bennett, S and Alcoverro, T and Kletou, D and Antoniou, C and Boada, J and Bunuel, X and Cucala, L and Jorda, G and Kleitou, P and Roca, G and Santana-Garcon, J and Savva, I and Verges, A and Marba, N, Resilience of seagrass populations to thermal stress does not reflect regional differences in ocean climate, New Phytologist, 233, (4) pp. 1657-1666. ISSN 0028-646X (2022) [Refereed Article]

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2021 The Authors. New Phytologist 2021 New Phytologist Foundation. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License, ( which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

DOI: doi:10.1111/nph.17885


  • The prevalence of local adaptation and phenotypic plasticity among populations is critical to accurately predicting when and where climate change impacts will occur. Currently, comparisons of thermal performance between populations are untested for most marine species or overlooked by models predicting the thermal sensitivity of species to extirpation.
  • Here we compared the ecological response and recovery of seagrass populations (Posidonia oceanica) to thermal stress throughout a year-long translocation experiment across a 2800-km gradient in ocean climate. Transplants in central and warm-edge locations experienced temperatures > 29C, representing thermal anomalies > 5C above long-term maxima for cool-edge populations, 1.5C for central and < 1C for warm-edge populations.
  • Cool-edge, central and warm-edge populations differed in thermal performance when grown under common conditions, but patterns contrasted with expectations based on thermal geography. Cool-edge populations did not differ from warm-edge populations under common conditions and performed significantly better than central populations in growth and survival.
  • Our findings reveal that thermal performance does not necessarily reflect the thermal geography of a species. We demonstrate that warm-edge populations can be less sensitive to thermal stress than cooler, central populations suggesting that Mediterranean seagrasses have greater resilience to warming than current paradigms suggest.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:local adaptation, acclimation, phenotypic plasticity, thermal sensitivity, Posidonia, ocean warming, herbivory
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments
UTAS Author:Bennett, S (Dr Scott Bennett)
UTAS Author:Santana-Garcon, J (Dr Julia Santana Garcon)
ID Code:149329
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE200100900)
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2022-03-25
Last Modified:2022-04-08
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