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Variation in the morphology, reproduction and development of the habitat-forming kelp Ecklonia radiata with changing temperature and nutrients


Mabin, CJT and Gribben, PE and Fischer, AM and Wright, JT, Variation in the morphology, reproduction and development of the habitat-forming kelp Ecklonia radiata with changing temperature and nutrients, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 483 pp. 117-131. ISSN 1616-1599 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Inter-Research

DOI: doi:10.3354/meps10261


Increasing ocean temperatures are a threat to kelp forests in several regions of the world. In this study, we examined how changes in ocean temperature and associated nitrate concentrations driven by the strengthening of the East Australian Current (EAC) will influence the morphology, reproduction and development of the widespread kelp Ecklonia radiata in southeastern Australia. E. radiata morphology and reproduction were examined at sites in New South Wales (NSW) and Tasmania, where sea surface temperature differs by ~5C, and a laboratory experiment was conducted to test the interactive effects of temperature and nutrients on E. radiata development. E. radiata size and amount of reproductive tissue were generally greater in the cooler waters of Tasmania compared to NSW. Importantly, one morphological trait (lamina length) was a strong predictor of the amount of reproductive tissue, suggesting that morphological changes in response to increased temperature may influence reproductive capacity in E. radiata. Growth of gametophytes was optimum between 15 and 22C and decreased by >50% above 22C. Microscopic sporophytes were also largest between 15 and 22C, but no sporophytes developed above 22C, highlighting a potentially critical upper temperature threshold for E. radiata in Tasmania. Lower nitrate concentration had no effect on E. radiata gametophytes and sporophytes. Given forecast increases in ocean temperature of between 2 and 3C in southeastern Australia by 2100, these findings suggest that E. radiata is likely to be affected by a strengthening EAC and highlight the susceptibility of the development and growth of early life-cycle stages to these changes.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Ecklonia radiata, East Australian Current, climate change, morphology, reproduction
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Ecosystem adaptation to climate change
UTAS Author:Mabin, CJT (Dr Christopher Mabin)
UTAS Author:Fischer, AM (Dr Andy Fischer)
UTAS Author:Wright, JT (Associate Professor Jeffrey Wright)
ID Code:84791
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:49
Deposited By:NC Marine Conservation and Resource Sustainability
Deposited On:2013-06-01
Last Modified:2014-04-28

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