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Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 11, pp 2471–2479 | Cite as

Drought stress, rain and recovery of the intertidal seaweed Fucus spiralis

  • Michael SchagerlEmail author
  • Martin Möstl
Original Paper

Abstract

Non-motile organisms of intertidal shores such as seaweeds have to cope with a great variability of environmental factors. In this survey, we studied whether different morphotypes of the intertidal seaweed Fucus spiralis L. are also reflected in a characteristic performance. Desiccation and recovery of this Phaeophyceae were investigated in field experiments near Aljezur, Portugal. Fucus spiralis is exposed to serious desiccation during periods of falling tide, resulting in a tissue water loss of about 90%. Due to large semidiurnal tidal ranges in this area, two morphotypes can be distinguished: F. spiralis growing in the lower intertidal (LZ) is thicker and fleshier compared with plants in the upper intertidal (HZ), and this is reflected in a significant difference in fresh and dry mass. During sunny days and at low tide, effective quantum yields (ΦPSII) decreased significantly after 2 h desiccation. This continued until re-submersion. The photosynthetic performances of HZ and LZ plants also differed significantly after LZ plants were already submerged and photosynthetisizing, but the HZ specimens still exposed to air. Recovery experiments after desiccation treatments showed fast recovery within 6 min after re-submersion in both morphotypes. HZ specimens showed a slower recovery, which indicates a protection measure to the adverse conditions in the upper intertidal. In 24 h desiccation treatments, however, HZ specimens expressed a significantly higher maximum fluorescence yield Fv/Fm recovery. Simulated rainfalls during low tides caused photosynthetic activity to drop to 50% of initial Fv/Fm, independent of the length of the rain period. Treated plants also fully recovered after 6 min re-submersion in seawater. A comparison of single fronds and tufts clearly indicated advantages of the tuft growth strategy: tufts showed higher ΦPSII at prolonged emersion times. Our study indicated a clear relationship between size and drought resistance, which was primarily due to the smaller and hardy HZ plants that withstand longer desiccation times without damage.

Keywords

Photosynthetic Active Radiation Intertidal Zone Tidal Cycle Compatible Solute Glycine Betaine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Thanks to P. Lamprecht for accommodation in Portugal, C. Fesl for statistical hints, and the whole team from the Vienna Team Phycology for their support. Funding for the field study by the KWA University of Vienna is gratefully acknowledged.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LimnologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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