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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps14223

Geniculate vs nongeniculate coralline algae: the different responses in case of stress are related also to morphology

Sarah Caronni*, Davide Giuseppe Calvi, Giulia Ceccherelli, Sandra Citterio, Maria Anna Delaria, Rodolfo Gentili, Chiara Montagnani, Augusto Navone, Pieraugusto Panzalis, Daniela Basso

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ABSTRACT: The response of algae to the main stressors affecting their survival and growth appears to be strictly related to their dimension and shape. Coralline algae (Corallinophycidae, Rhodophyta) show a variety of morphological types that could play a role in their tolerance to stressed conditions. Nevertheless, only a few studies investigated their response to multiple stressors grouping them by morphology. The aim of this work was to investigate the performance of the two main morpho-functional groups of coralline algae (nongeniculate and geniculate) in response to different stressors acting simultaneously (presence of fleshy macroalgae and/or benthic mucilage and sediment deposition). To the purpose, a manipulative field experiment was conducted on superficial rocky substrata (subtidal, 0.5 m of depth) in Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo Marine Protected Area in 2016-2018. The effect of each of the three above mentioned stressors and of their different combinations was tested on the two groups of algae (in particular, four treatments were applied in triplicate). The percent cover of the substratum by living coralline algae and their net primary production were considered as response variables. The obtained results showed that, even if some common trends in the response to the three applied stressors of algae belonging to the two morpho-functional groups were noticeable, also some different effects were observed for each group, in relation to the considered response variable. These results prove the importance of considering the morpho-functional group when predicting the response of coralline algae to disturbances and identifying the main threats affecting them.