Irradiance and nutrient limitation of Dicytota spp. populations on Conch Reef, Florida Keys, USA



K. S. Beach; L. J. Walters;H. B. Borgeas


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Abbreviated Journal Title

J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol.


chlorophyll fluorescence; coral reefs; Dictyota menstrualis; Dictyota; pulchella; macroalgal productivity; photosynthesis; ALGA DICTYOTA-DICHOTOMA; CORAL-REEFS; PIGMENT CONTENT; INTERNAL WAVES; HALIMEDA-TUNA; CHLOROPHYLL-A; PHOTOSYNTHESIS; WATER; PHOTOINHIBITION; LIGHT; Ecology; Marine & Freshwater Biology


The photosynthetic performance, pigmentation and response to nutrient enrichment of a Dictyota community were studied over a 32 m depth gradient on Conch Reef, Florida Keys, USA. Dictyota spp. was the dominant space occupier on Conch Reef. During summer months from 1994 to 2001, mean percent cover was 43% at 7 and 21 m depths. Percent cover of Dictyota spp. was markedly lower at 32 m relative to shallower sites. The metabolism of Dictyota menstrualis and Dictyota pulchella were negatively impacted by attenuation of irradiance with increased depth such that ETRmax and P/R ratio decreased by 85% and 47%, respectively in samples from 7 to 32 m. Decreased cover of Dicytota spp. at 32 m relative to shallower sites may be the result of the inability of this species complex to acclimate to low irradiance levels as indicated by a lack of change in alpha and photosynthetic pigment content with increased depth. The response of D. menstrualis populations on Conch Reef to nutrient enrichment was variable. During August 2000, a natural enrichment experiment was conducted as D. menstrualis photosynthetic performance was surveyed both during and for days after a period of cool, nutrient-rich internal tidal bores bathed the 21 m site. No changes in in situ photosynthetic performance were observed either during or for 2 to 4 days after this natural event suggesting no nutrient limitation. In August 2001, a manipulative nutrient enrichment experiment was conducted with D. menstrualis from 7, 21 and 32 m. Increases in 011 were found in individuals exposed to nutrient enrichment from all depths, indicating at that time D. menstrualis was nutrient-limited on Conch Reef Variation in the physiological response to nutrient enrichment may be the result of the frequency of internal tidal bores on Conch Reef in the months prior to our experiments. Variation in the responses by Dictyota spp. to irradiance and nutrient enrichment suggests that long-term monitoring over relevant temporal and spatial scales is necessary to accurately characterize limits on productivity and spread of this weedy species assemblage. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Journal Title

Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology





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