Growth and production inLaminaria solidungula: relation to continuous underwater light levels in the Alaskan High Arctic


The growth relations of the kelpLaminaria solidungula were examined in the summers of 1984 and from 1986 to 1989 in relation to continuous year-round measurements of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) at several sites in the Stefansson Sound Boulder Patch, Alaskan Beaufort Sea. PAR showed large seasonal differences, ranging from a maximum of 5µmol m−2 s−1 during the ice-covered months to 200µmol m−2 s−1 during the open-water season. In most years, the light received during the 9 mo ice-covered period represented < 10% of the total PAR reaching the plants. Annual variations in PAR ranged from 45 to over 89 mol m−2 yr−1 over the 4 yr period among sites. In 1988, annual quantum budgets forL. solidungula varied from 45 to 50 mol m−2 yr−1, close to that reported in the previous year, and near the annual minimum light requirement reported in other studies for the lower limit ofLaminaria spp. However, the duration of time that the plants were exposed to saturating levels of PAR in 1988 was considerably less than in other years. This was correlated with significant reductions in thallus tissue-density and carbon content during the summer open-water period in 1988. Percentage of dry to wet weight (tissue density) dropped from about 16 to 10%; carbon content from 35 to 28%. The drop in both indices indicated that 1988 summer open-water (ice-free) PAR was insufficient for maintaining maximum photosynthetic carbon fixation. The decreased storage of carbohydrate reserves, which are used for tissue expansion during the dark ice-covered period, resulted in significantly reduced linear growth in all plants the following year (1989). These results provide evidence that in low-light environments, plant production is more a function of exposure to saturating levels of PAR than to the total amount of photons received over the course of a growing season. Under these conditions, under-ice photosynthetic production at very low light levels becomes increasingly important forL. solidungula if it is to meet the metabolic demands imposed by winter growth and respiration.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Literature cited

  1. Chapman, A. R. O., Lindley, J. E. (1980). Seasonal growth ofLaminaria solidungula in the Canadian High Arctic in relation to irradiance and dissolved nutrient concentrations. Mar. Biol. 57: 1–5

    Google Scholar 

  2. Dean, T. A. (1985). The temporal and spatial distribution of underwater quantum irradiation in a southern California kelp forest. Estuar., cstl Shelf Sci. 21: 835–844

    Google Scholar 

  3. Dennison, W. C., Alberte, R. S. (1985). Role of daily light period in the depth distribution ofZostera marina (eelgrass). Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 25: 51–61

    Google Scholar 

  4. Dunton, K. H. (1984). An annual carbon budget for an arctic kelp community. In: Barnes, P. W., Schell, D. M., Reimnitz, E. (eds.) The Alaskan Beaufort Sea: ecosystems and environments. Academic Press, Orlando, p. 311–326

    Google Scholar 

  5. Dunton, K. H., Jodwalis, C. M. (1988). Photosynthetic performance ofLaminaria solidungula measured in situ in the Alaska High Arctic. Mar. Biol. 98: 277–285

    Google Scholar 

  6. Dunton, K. H., Reimnitz, E., Schonberg, S. (1982). An arctic kelp community in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea. Arctic 35: 465–484

    Google Scholar 

  7. Dunton, K. H., Schell, D. M. (1986). Seasonal carbon budget and growth ofLaminaria solidungula in the Alaskan High Arctic. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 31: 57–66

    Google Scholar 

  8. Hiscock, K. (1986). Aspects of the ecology of rocky sublittoral areas. In: Moore, P. G., Seed, R. (eds.) The ecology of rocky coasts. Columbia University Press, New York, p. 290–328

    Google Scholar 

  9. Kirk, J. T. O. (1983). Light and photosynthesis in aquatic ecosystems. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  10. Kondratyev, K. Y. (1954). Radiant solar energy [In Russ.]. Leningrad. [cited after Kirk (1983)]

  11. Lüning, K. (1981). Light. In: Lobban, C. S., Wynne, M. J. (eds.) The biology of seaweeds. University of California Press, Berkeley, p. 326–355

    Google Scholar 

  12. Lüning, K., Dring, M. J. (1979). Continuous underwater light measurement near Helgoland (North Sea) and its significance for characteristic light limits in the sublittoral region. Helgoländer wiss. Meeresunters. 32: 403–424

    Google Scholar 

  13. Reimnitz, E., Kempema, E. W. (1987). Field observations of slush ice generated during freeze-up in arctic coastal waters. Mar. Geol. 77: 219–231

    Google Scholar 

  14. SAS Institute Inc. (1985). SAS/STAT guide for personal computers. Version 6 ed. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, North Carolina

    Google Scholar 

  15. Sears, J. R., Cooper, R. A. (1978). Descriptive ecology of offshore, deep-water, benthic algae in the temperate Western North Atlantic Ocean. Mar. Biol. 44: 309–314

    Google Scholar 

  16. Vadas, R. L., Steneck, R. S. (1988). Zonation of deep water benthic algae in the Gulf of Maine. J. Phycol. 24: 338–346

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Additional information

University of Texas Marine Science Institute Contribution No. 764

Communicated by J. M. Lawrence, Tampa

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dunton, K.H. Growth and production inLaminaria solidungula: relation to continuous underwater light levels in the Alaskan High Arctic. Mar. Biol. 106, 297–304 (1990).

Download citation


  • Photosynthetically Active Radiation
  • Tissue Expansion
  • Carbohydrate Reserve
  • Winter Growth
  • Annual Quantum