Marine Biology

, Volume 116, Issue 3, pp 519–525 | Cite as

Effects of wave-induced lightflecks in the intertidal zone on photosynthesis in the macroalgae Postelsia palmaeformis and Hedophyllum sessile (Phaeophyceae)

  • S. R. Wing
  • M. R. Patterson


Intertidal algae are exposed to a highly variable photic regime because of crashing waves. We measured photosynthetic rate of whole fronds of the seaweeds Postelsia palmaeformis (Ruprecht) (at Bodega Marine Laboratory, 1991) and Hedophyllum sessile (Setchell) (Phaeophyceae) (at Friday Harbor Laboratories, 1990) in flashing and steady-state photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) of equal irradiance, using a recirculating metabolism chamber designed to minimize the thickness of diffusional boundary layers on the surfaces of algal tissues. The dimensionless ratio of photosynthetic rate under flecking PAR (Pfleck) and the sum of photosynthetic rate under steady state PAR (Ps) of high and low irradiance was computed for lightfleck periods from 0.2 to 100 s. Pfleck:Ps is a measure of the light-flash utilization-efficiency in flashing light, and was greater than unity at periods between lighflecks of 2 to 30 s, with a peak at 10 s. We used a novel optical fiber irradiance meter to measure PAR incident on fronds of P. palmaeformis as they were washed about by waves breaking in the intertidal zone, and compared the light records to that obtained by a stationary sensor under the canopy. PAR flashing period was closely correlated with the period of breaking waves in stands of P. palmaeformis. We estimated the seasonal spectrum of period between light flashes in stands of this species by examining the spectral density of ocean waves at Bodega Marine Laboratory, Bodega Bay, California. The wave spectrum peaks at a period (10 s) where light-flashes may theoretically enhance the light-flash utilization-efficiency of seaweeds. We calculate that the enhanced light-flash utilization-efficiency wrought by wave-induced light-flashes may contribute to significant gains in primary productivity of these macroalgae under some conditions.


Photosynthetic Rate Macroalgae Photosynthetically Active Radiation Intertidal Zone Breaking Wave 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. R. Wing
    • 1
  • M. R. Patterson
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Environmental StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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