Insights on the effects of extreme temperature and radiation on canopy-forming macroalgae, implications for conservation

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Sònia de Caralt, Jana Verdura, Alba Vergés, Emma Cebrian

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Fucalean brown algae are dominant canopy-forming species that create extensive, dense, and highly productive ecosystems in the subtidal rocky shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Regrettably, these assemblages are suffering an intense regression in many Mediterranean regions attributed to pollution, habitat destruction, overgrazing by sea urchins, and recently, to ocean warming. Analyze the impacts of climate change on fucoid species will be crucial for future conservation plans. In this study, we investigate the effects of extreme temperature and radiation conditions, expected in the context of global warming, on different species of the order Fucales. We compare specific responses of Ericaria crinita an species that inhabits sheltered and low wave-exposed rocky shores with E. mediterranea that inhabits exposed or moderately exposed zones. We performed laboratory experiments to study the effects of temperature and radiation on germlings and adults of both species. We conducted six different treatments combining three temperatures (21º, 24º, and 28ºC) with two radiations (PAR and PAR+UV). The number of released zygotes, survival, and growth were measured in germlings. Changes in biomass and photosynthetic yield were measured in adults. Our results show that the response against temperature and radiation is species-specific. While adults of E. mediterranea are more affected than E. crinita at 28ºC, germlings of E. mediterranea show higher survival and growth than E. crinita germlings, which are highly affected by extreme temperatures and UV radiation. We can conclude that areas with low hydrodynamic conditions inhabited by E. crinita are more vulnerable to the future warming scenario.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program