Early life history phases are crucial stages limiting species distribution and abundance, thus influencing assemblage composition in marine benthic environments. In seagrass systems the period between seed germination and establishment is one of the most vulnerable phases for plant development. This study analyzes the influence of microhabitat structure, in terms of substrate nature and algal canopy, on the persistence and growth over two years of seedlings of Posidonia oceanica, the dominant Mediterranean seagrass. Long time persistence of seedlings only occurred on microhabitats providing vegetated rocky substrates, with a maximum value of 81% on rock covered by Cystoseira spp. No seedling was found on unvegetated sand and gravel after the first year. Seedling growth resulted increased on rock covered by Halopteris spp. and Dilophus spp. than on rock covered by Cystoseira spp. Results suggest that high canopy onto a stable substrate enhances seedling persistence, probably because these allow the best anchorage by roots while hampering water flow. In contrast, turf algal cover promotes better seedling growth, possibly through higher light irradiance and nutrient availability. Our findings support the view that the understanding of the factors controlling early life processes is a necessary prerequisite for the comprehension of seagrass species distribution patterns, colonization and recovery potentials, which, in turn, can guide sound strategies for seagrass management and restoration.

Influence of microhabitat on seedling survival and growth of the mediterranean seagrass posidonia oceanica (l.) Delile

TERLIZZI, ANTONIO;
2013

Abstract

Early life history phases are crucial stages limiting species distribution and abundance, thus influencing assemblage composition in marine benthic environments. In seagrass systems the period between seed germination and establishment is one of the most vulnerable phases for plant development. This study analyzes the influence of microhabitat structure, in terms of substrate nature and algal canopy, on the persistence and growth over two years of seedlings of Posidonia oceanica, the dominant Mediterranean seagrass. Long time persistence of seedlings only occurred on microhabitats providing vegetated rocky substrates, with a maximum value of 81% on rock covered by Cystoseira spp. No seedling was found on unvegetated sand and gravel after the first year. Seedling growth resulted increased on rock covered by Halopteris spp. and Dilophus spp. than on rock covered by Cystoseira spp. Results suggest that high canopy onto a stable substrate enhances seedling persistence, probably because these allow the best anchorage by roots while hampering water flow. In contrast, turf algal cover promotes better seedling growth, possibly through higher light irradiance and nutrient availability. Our findings support the view that the understanding of the factors controlling early life processes is a necessary prerequisite for the comprehension of seagrass species distribution patterns, colonization and recovery potentials, which, in turn, can guide sound strategies for seagrass management and restoration.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2900507
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