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Research article2012Peer reviewed

Increased seawater temperature and light during early springs accelerate receptacle growth of Fucus vesiculosus in the northern Baltic proper

Kraufvelin, Patrik; Ruuskanen, Ari T.; Back, Saara; Russell, George


In many temperate estuarine areas, ongoing climatic changes are expected to lead to higher seawater temperatures, to increased inflow of freshwater and nutrients (due to increased rainfall) and to altered light conditions. During the last two decades, several winters have been unusually mild in southern Finland, and the subsequent springs have been early. This may have consequences for the seasonality of many species, including the bladder-wrack, Fucus vesiculosus, whose reproductive cycle may be especially sensitive. In the present study, F. vesiculosus receptacles from the field were weighed regularly during three warm (early) springs and compared with receptacles from three cold (late) springs. On average, the first sign of receptacle growth in the field occurred 5-6 weeks earlier and receptacles probably matured 2-3 weeks earlier during the warm springs than during the cold springs. This may be due to differences in seawater temperatures among years, but significantly heavier receptacles at 0.8 m compared to at 3.1 m further suggests the importance of light for receptacle growth as a measure of maturation, since there were no depth-related differences in seawater temperatures. Also, when plotting receptacle wet weights against seawater temperatures, the importance of light can be seen as different regression relationships (slopes and intercepts). In an outdoor aquarium experiment, the effects of temperature and light on receptacle growth were also tested, and there were significant differences between shallow and deep specimens, but temperature and light had no effects, except on initial receptacle growth. Since oogonian development, and thereby the time for zygote release, followed the receptacle growth curve, this could mean a mismatch between the timing of F. vesiculosus zygote settlement and the cover of competing filamentous algae, but such species interactions require further investigations in order to better understand their possible consequences.

Published in

Marine Biology
2012, Volume: 159, number: 8, pages: 1795-1807
Publisher: SPRINGER

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