Vertical growth of Thalassia testudinum: seasonal and interannual variability

Núria Marbà, Margarita E. Gallegos, Martín Merino, Carlos M. Duarte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The vertical growth of shoots of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum Banks ex König in four meadows, along a range of exposure to waves, in the Mexican Caribbean was examined to elucidate its magnitude and its relationship to sediment dynamics. Average internodal length varied between 0.17 and 12.75 mm, and was greatest in the meadow which experienced the greatest burial by sand waves moved by Hurricane Gilbert (September 1988). Internodal length showed annual cycles, confirmed by the flower scars always preceding or coinciding with the annual minimum internodal length. These annual cycles on the shoot allowed estimation of annual leaf production, which varied, on average, between 14.2 and 19.3 leaves per shoot year-1. High vertical shoot growth was associated with long internodes and high leaf production rate, which increased with increasing vertical shoot growth to a maximum of approximately 25 leaves per shoot year-1, with vertical growth of about 30 mm year-1 or more. Average internodal length showed substantial interannual differences from perturbations derived from the passage of Hurricane Gilbert. The growth response of the plants surviving moderate burial and erosion after the hurricane involved enhanced vertical growth and increased leaf production, and reduced vertical growth, respectively, after 1988. The variability in shoot vertical growth of T. testudinum can be separated into seasonal changes in plant growth, and long-term variability associated with episodic perturbations involving sediment redistribution by hurricanes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAquatic Botany
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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