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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 482:93-106 (2013)  -  DOI:

Seasonal heterogeneity in the photophysiological response to air exposure in two tropical intertidal seagrass species

K. Petrou1,*, I. Jimenez-Denness1, K. Chartrand2, C. McCormack2, M. Rasheed2, P. J. Ralph

1Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster and School of Environment, University of Technology, Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway, New South Wales 2007, Australia
2Centre for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem Research, James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia

ABSTRACT: Photosynthesis, chlorophyll a fluorescence, leaf bio-optical properties and pigments were measured in 2 tropical intertidal seagrass species, Zostera muelleri ssp. capricorni and Halophila ovalis before, during and after air-exposure over a tidal cycle. Data were collected across 4 seasons (October and January—growing seasons; May and July—senescent seasons) to determine seasonal dynamics in physiological responses to air exposure. Both species showed clear light-dependent responses with a decline in photosynthetic efficiency and increased photoprotection during periods of combined maximum daily irradiance and air exposure for all seasons. In Z. muelleri ssp. capricorni there was a negative correlation between air-exposed effective quantum yield and light intensity, suggesting exposure was driving this decline. Conversely, sensitivity (decline in effective quantum yield of photosystem II) to increased irradiance dominated the response in H. ovalis, with no change in the magnitude of this response between air-exposed and submerged blades. The response to air exposure observed in Z. muelleri ssp. capricorni showed seasonal variation, with a greater decline in photosynthesis during the spring (October). Tidal exposure did not provide intertidal seagrasses a ‘window’ of photosynthetic respite (increase in photosynthesis) from high natural or anthropogenic turbidity. However, the periods immediately prior to and after exposure were important for providing an optimum period for net photosynthetic gain.

KEY WORDS: Seagrass · Zostera muelleri ssp. capricorni · Halophila ovalis · Chl a fluorescence · Light-limitation · Air exposure

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Cite this article as: Petrou K, Jimenez-Denness I, Chartrand K, McCormack C, Rasheed M, Ralph PJ (2013) Seasonal heterogeneity in the photophysiological response to air exposure in two tropical intertidal seagrass species. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 482:93-106.

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