, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 833-844
Date: 18 Dec 2007

Effect of seawater temperature on the productivity of Laminaria japonica in the Uwa Sea, southern Japan

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Recent studies on global climate change report that increase in seawater temperature leads to coastal ecosystem change, including coral bleaching in the tropic. In order to assess the effect of increased seawater temperature on a temperate coastal ecosystem, we studied the inter-annual variation in productivity of Laminaria japonica using long-term oceanographic observations for the Uwa Sea, southern Japan. The annual productivity estimates for L. japonica were 2.7 ± 2.5 (mean ± SD) kg wet wt. m−1 (length of rope) (2003/2004), 1.0 ± 0.6 kg wet wt. m−1 (2004/2005) and 12.1 ± 12.5 kg wet wt. m−1 (2005/2006). Our previous study using the same methodology at the same locality reported that the productivity was estimated for the 2001/2002 (33.3 ± 15.2 kg wet wt. m−1) and 2002/2003 (34.0 ± 8.7 kg wet wt. m−1) seasons. Productivity in 2003/2004 and 2004/2005 was significantly lower than in years 2001/2002, 2002/2003 and 2005/2006. A comparison of oceanographic conditions among the 5 years revealed the presence of threshold seawater temperature effects. When the average seawater temperature during the first 45 days of each experiment exceeded 15.5°C, productivity was reduced to about 10 % of that in cooler years. Moreover the analysis of growth and erosion rates indicates that when the seawater temperature was over 17.5°C, erosion rate exceeded growth rate. Thus, an increase of seawater temperature of just 1°C during winter drastically reduces the productivity of L. japonica in the Uwa Sea.