MEPS 590:79-93 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12479

Life history events of eelgrass Zostera marina L. populations across gradients of latitude and temperature

S. E. Blok1, B. Olesen2, D. Krause-Jensen3,4,*

1Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1098 XH Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2Department of Bioscience, Building 1135, Aarhus University, Ole Worms Allé 1, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
3Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Vejlsøvej 25, 8600 Silkeborg, Denmark
4Arctic Research Centre, Building 1540, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 114, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The wide distribution range of eelgrass Zostera marina L. encompasses a broad temperature gradient potentially affecting the timing of life history events (phenology), which may also change with global warming. We explored the temperature dependence of eelgrass phenology by analysing published studies reporting the timing of in situ flowering, seed maturation and seedling emergence across a range of latitude (26.8-56.8°N) and annual mean air temperature (6.4-23.7°C). The timing of events changed significantly along the latitude and temperature gradients, being delayed towards northern, colder locations. On average, an increase in annual mean temperature by 1°C advanced the formation of flowering shoots by 12 d and the maturation of seeds by 10.8 d. Seedlings from warmer locations tended to emerge in autumn, whereas cold-water seedlings did not appear until late winter or early spring resulting in an overall advancement of 9.7 d per 1°C increase in annual temperature. The mean monthly temperature associated with specific life history events showed the strongest temperature specificity for maturation of seeds (range 13.5-20.2°C) and largest variability for the emergence of seedlings (range -1 to 20.2°C). Overall, increased latitude resulted in lower temperature thresholds for flowering, seed maturation and emergence of seedlings, indicating that such thresholds are subject to local adaptation or acclimation rather than being universal across the distribution range. Using a time-for-space approach, our results suggest that future warming will result in advanced timing of life history events of eelgrass and increased capacity for sexual reproduction at northern latitudes.


KEY WORDS: Zostera marina · Phenology · Seasonality · Temperature · Warming · Latitude · Flowering · Seeds · Seedling


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Cite this article as: Blok SE, Olesen B, Krause-Jensen D (2018) Life history events of eelgrass Zostera marina L. populations across gradients of latitude and temperature. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 590:79-93. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12479

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