We experimentally examined the effects of increased temperature on growth and demography of two Mediterranean seagrasses Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa. Shoots of C. nodosa and seedlings and shoots of P. oceanica were kept in mesocosms for 3 months and exposed to temperatures between 25 and 32 °C encompassing the range of maximum summer seawater temperatures projected for the Mediterranean Sea during the twenty-first century. The response of P. oceanica seedlings to warming was evident with reduced growth rates, leaf formation rates and leaf biomass per shoot. Younger life stages of P. oceanica may therefore be particularly vulnerable to climate change and warming. Leaf formation rates in the shoots of P. oceanica declined with increasing temperature and the lowest population growth (-0. 005 day -1) was found at 32 °C. Temperature effects on C. nodosa were variable. Rhizome growth increased with warming (0. 07-0. 09 cm day -1 °C of warming), whereas other indicators of plant performance (aboveground/belowground biomass, leaf biomass and population growth) appeared to be stimulated by increased temperature to a threshold temperature of around 29-30 °C beyond which they declined. P. oceanica and C. nodosa are likely to be negatively impacted by the effects of global warming over the next century and climate change poses a significant challenge to seagrasses and may stress these key habitat-forming species that are already suffering losses from anthropogenic impacts.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was funded by the projects Southern European Seas: Assessing and Modelling Ecosystem Changes (European Union, 6th Framework Programme, contract no.036949), Marinera (CTM2008-04183-E) and MEDEICG (Spanish Ministry of Science, reference no. CTM2009-07013). We thank Rosa Garcia Novoa and Olga Carnicer for their help with the mesocosms and the Palma Aquarium for providing access to their facilities. YSO was supported by a funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement no. .
- Cymodocea nodosa
- Global warming
- Posidonia oceanica
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science