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Large-scale analysis of biomass and reproductive seasonality for intertidal seagrass Zostera japonica: native and non-native comparisons

Minako Abe Ito*, Hsing-Juh Lin, Mary I. O’Connor, Masahiro Nakaoka

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Large-scale analysis along latitude or temperature gradients can be an effective method for exploring the potential roles of light and temperature for controlling seagrass phenology. In this study, we investigated effects of latitude and temperature on seagrass biomass and reproductive seasonality. Zostera japonica is an intertidal seagrass with a wide latitudinal distribution expanding from tropical to temperate zones in its native range in Asia, with additional non-native distribution in North America. We collated available data on phenological traits (timings of peak biomass or reproduction, durations of biomass growth and reproductive season, and maximum biomass or reproductive ratio) from publications and our own observations. Traits were compared among geographic groups: Asia tropical, Asia temperate, and North America temperate. We further examined relationships between traits and latitude and temperature for three population groups: Asian, North American and all populations. Our analysis revealed significant variation among geographic groups in maximum biomass, peak reproductive timing, and maximum reproductive ratio, but not in other traits. Maximum biomass and peak reproductive timings for Asian and all populations were significantly correlated with latitude and temperature. Maximum biomass was highest at mid-latitudes or intermediate temperatures and decreased toward distribution range limits, and peak reproductive timing occurred later in the year at higher latitudes or cooler sites. North American populations showed shorter growth durations and greater reproductive ratios at higher latitude. Different responses observed for North American populations may reflect effects of introduction. Our study demonstrates potential variation among geographic region and between native and non-native populations.