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Biomechanical response of two fast-growing tropical seagrass species subjected to in situ shading and sediment fertilization
La Nafie, Y.A.; de los Santos, C.B.; Brun, F.G.; Mashoreng, S.; van Katwijk, M.M.; Bouma, T.J. (2013). Biomechanical response of two fast-growing tropical seagrass species subjected to in situ shading and sediment fertilization. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 446: 186-193. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2013.05.020
In: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. Elsevier: New York. ISSN 0022-0981, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Biomechanics; Indonesia; Morphology; Sediment-fertilization; Shading;Tropical seagrass

Authors  Top 
  • La Nafie, Y.A., more
  • de los Santos, C.B.
  • Brun, F.G., more
  • Mashoreng, S.
  • van Katwijk, M.M., more
  • Bouma, T.J., more

Abstract
    Although seagrasses experience strong hydrodynamic forces, little is known about their biomechanical response in spite of the potential importance for their ecological success. We investigated how light reduction and sediment-nutrient enrichment affect biomechanical and morphological properties of two short-lived tropical seagrass species: Halophila avails and Halodule uninervis. A 50-day manipulative field experiment of shading and sediment-nutrient enrichment versus a natural population (control) showed that both shading and nutrient enrichment made the leaves of Halophila avails weaker (lower F-TS) and more elastic (lower E-T). As the absolute breakability of leaves (F-MAX) was not affected by either of the treatments, this implies that these changes in strength and stiffness resulted from the increase in leaf dimensions under nutrient enrichment (i.e., longer, wider and thicker leaves) and shading conditions (i.e., thicker leaves). In contrast, the biomechanical properties of H. uninervis leaves were less responsive and only became more extensible under shading while their biomechanics did not change under sediment nutrient enrichment. This limited response of H. uninervis might be due to the lack of morphological response in this species since leaves only became longer under nutrient enrichment When comparing both species across treatments under shading (after normalizing them with their controls), H. avails became significantly weaker compared to H. uninervis, and the latter became more extensible. Under nutrient enrichment, H. ovalis became significantly more elastic compared H. uninervis. Overall we found that (i) biomechanical properties can be affected by environmental conditions, (ii) the responses were species specific, and (iii) seagrass morphology (leaf thickness and width) affected by environmental conditions will influence seagrass biomechanical properties. Further experimental studies on seagrass biomechanics are needed as present understandings of the acclimation of these properties and the consequences for species functioning are only starting to emerge.

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