MEPS 350:63-70 (2007)  -  DOI:

Interspecific variation in photosynthesis and respiration balance of three seagrasses in relation to light availability

Yoshiyuki Tanaka1,*, Masahiro Nakaoka2

1Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Minamidai 1-15-1, Nakano, Tokyo 164-8639, Japan
2Graduate School of Science and Technology, Chiba University, Yayoi-cho 1-33, Inage, Chiba 263-8522, Japan

ABSTRACT: Low light levels are a major factor determining the depth distribution of submerged macrophytes. In the Indo-Pacific tropical region, different seagrass species have specific zonation patterns from intertidal to subtidal areas along depth and light gradients. Cymodocea serrulata generally occurs in deeper water than Thalassia hemprichii and C. rotundata, suggesting that C. serrulata probably has the lowest minimum photon requirement of the 3 species. We compared photosynthesis and respiration balances of these 3 tropical seagrasses by examining photosynthesis-irradiance (P-E) curves for leaves and for the whole plant bodies. Sample collection and measurement were conducted on 2 occasions (July and February) on Ishigaki Island, southwestern Japan. Leaf photosynthetic traits were not concordant with the observed zonation pattern of the species. When respiration rates of the root and rhizome were taken into account, T. hemprichii had a significantly higher light compensation point (158.1 µmol photons m–2 s–1 in July, 187.2 in February) than C. rotundata (47.9 in July, 41.0 in February) and C. serrulata (85.1 in July, 40.0 in February). The large amount of belowground respiration in T. hemprichii was a major cause of the variation in the compensation irradiance. This result is in concordance with the realized distribution pattern of T. hemprichii, which is sparse under low light conditions caused by depth or heavy siltation. Conversely, C. serrulata had less belowground biomass and a smaller respiration demand, enabling the species to maintain a better photosynthetic/respiration balance under lower light. C. rotundata had a lower saturating irradiance, a lower compensation point and a lower respiration rate than the other species. Thus, C. rotundata has the potential to inhabit the deepest water, although its realized distribution range is shallower than that of C. serrulata, suggesting that other factors limit the depth range of C. rotundata.

KEY WORDS: Biomass allocation · Depth limit · O2 budget · P-E curve · Tropical seagrasses

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Cite this article as: Tanaka Y, Nakaoka M (2007) Interspecific variation in photosynthesis and respiration balance of three seagrasses in relation to light availability. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 350:63-70.

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