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UV-radiation versus grazing pressure: long-term floating of kelp rafts (Macrocystis pyrifera) is facilitated by efficient photoacclimation but undermined by grazing losses
Rothäusler, E.; Gómez, I.; Karsten, U.; Tala, F.; Thiel, M. (2011). UV-radiation versus grazing pressure: long-term floating of kelp rafts (Macrocystis pyrifera) is facilitated by efficient photoacclimation but undermined by grazing losses. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 158(1): 127-141. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-010-1547-9
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Rothäusler, E.
  • Gómez, I.
  • Karsten, U.
  • Tala, F.
  • Thiel, M.

Abstract
    Large quantities of floating macroalgae are traveling in coastal waters of the SE Pacific and in other temperate climate zones. While afloat, these algae are potentially exposed to full solar radiation, including UVA and UVB, which can have profound effects on their physiological and growth performance. Latitudinal variations in UV-radiation (UVR) are hypothesized to affect floating algae differently with higher impacts at low latitudes than at high latitudes. In addition, UVR together with grazing might accelerate the demise of floating kelps. This hypothesis was tested with outdoor laboratory experiments in which sporophytes of the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera (L.) C. Agardh were exposed to a combination of different UVR regimes (PAR only, PAR + UV) and grazing at three sites along the Chilean coast (20°S, 30°S, and 40°S). A latitudinal trend in irradiance was detected with increasing values from 40°S to 20°S. Surprisingly, floating M. pyrifera responded with a high acclimation potential within this latitudinal UVR gradient. At 20°S, floating kelps were slightly sensitive to UVR, which was reflected in reduced blade growth. At 30°S, physiological responses were hardly affected by the prevailing irradiance but sporophyte growth and thus persistence mainly depended on the presence or absence of amphipod grazers. At high latitudes, grazing had only minor impacts on algal biomass and blade growth, and kelps thrived well under all tested environmental conditions. Overall, our results reveal that floating M. pyrifera was only slightly affected by UVR and that sporophytes can efficiently acclimate over a latitudinal UVR gradient that spans from 20°S to 40°S. Given this high acclimation potential, we suggest that these (and possibly other) positively buoyant algae are important dispersal agents over a wide range of temperate latitude conditions.

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