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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 309:143-157 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps309143

Dynamics of carbon allocation in a deep-water population of the deciduous kelp Pleurophycus gardneri (Laminariales)

Clare Margaret Dominik1,*, Richard C. Zimmerman1,2

1The California State University, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, 8272 Moss Landing Road, Moss Landing, California 95039, USA
2Present address: Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, 4600 Elkhorn Avenue, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529, USA

ABSTRACT: Pleurophycus gardneri (Laminariales) is common in the low intertidal of the Northeast Pacific, but dominates many deep (30 to 40 m) rocky reefs in central California. Seasonal dynamics of productivity and resource allocation of a deep-water population of this deciduous, stipitate kelp were studied to understand how blade abscission affects the annual carbon budget. Patterns of growth, metabolism, and carbon storage and mobilization were measured monthly for 1 yr relative to in situ light and temperature, and used to model the annual carbon budget. The resulting carbon budget was used to determine if blade abscission effectively reduced respiratory demand during the winter period of low light availability. Metabolic properties (photosynthesis, photoacclimation, and respiration) were seasonally constant and showed evidence of photoacclimation to this deep, low-light environment. Blades grew between February and July, followed by senescence and sloughing from August to December. Concentrations of laminaran and mannitol decreased in the blades from the onset of sloughing in August until just prior to blade abscission in mid-December, suggesting translocation of these carbohydrates may have occurred from the blade to the stipe and holdfast. Carbon budget estimates revealed that scalar irradiance measures overestimated the light available for photosynthesis of these paddle-shaped kelp blades by 50 to 75%. The calculations also revealed that blade retention allowed for the maintenance of positive carbon balance throughout the year. Thus, conservation of the internal carbon reserve for metabolic survival during the low-light period does not appear to be a viable explanation for the deciduous life history of P. gardneri. Abscission may reduce hydrodynamic drag, thus minimizing the probability of dislodgment of entire plants during winter storm events, or promote spore dispersal as abscised blades and sori drift away from the parent holdfast.

KEY WORDS: Carbon budget · Photosynthesis · Abscission · Light acclimation

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