Impact of light limitation on seagrasses

Elsevier Inc
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 2007, 350 (1-2), pp. 176 - 193
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Seagrass distribution is controlled by light availability, especially at the deepest edge of the meadow. Light attenuation due to both natural and anthropogenically-driven processes leads to reduced photosynthesis. Adaptation allows seagrasses to exist under these sub-optimal conditions. Understanding the minimum quantum requirements for growth (MQR) is revealed when light conditions are insufficient to maintain a positive carbon balance, leading to a decline in seagrass growth and distribution. Respiratory demands of photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic tissues strongly influence the carbon balance, as do resource allocations between above- and below-ground biomass. Seagrass light acclimation occurs on varying temporal scales, as well as across spatial scales, from the position along a single leaf blade to within the canopy and finally across the meadow. Leaf absorptance is regulated by factors such as pigment content, morphology and physical properties. Chlorophyll content and morphological characteristics of leaves such as leaf thickness change at the deepest edge. We present a series of conceptual models describing the factors driving the light climate and seagrass responses under current and future conditions, with special attention on the deepest edge of the meadow.
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