Physiological performance and thermal tolerance of major Red Sea macrophytes

  • Michael Weinzierl

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


As anthropogenically-forced ocean temperatures continue to rise, the physiological response of marine macrophytes becomes exceedingly relevant. The Red Sea is a semi-isolated sea- the warmest in the world (SST up to 34°C) - already exhibiting signs of rapid warming rates exceeding those of other tropical oceans. This will have profound effects on the physiology of marine organisms, specifically marine macrophytes, which have direct influence on the dynamic carbonate system of the Red Sea. The aim of this paper is to define the physiological capability and thermal optima and limits of six ecologically important Red Sea macrophytes- ranging from seagrasses to calcifying and non-calcifying algae- and to describe the effects of increasing thermal stress on the performance and limits of each macrophyte in terms of activation energy. Of the species considered, Halophila stipulacae, Halimeda optunia, Halimeda monile and Padina pavonica thrive in thermal extremes and may be more successful in future Red Sea warming scenarios. Specifically, Halimeda opuntia increased productivity and calcification rates up to 38°C, making it the most thermally resilient macrophyte. Halophila stipulacae is the most productive seagrass, and hence has the greatest positive effect on Omega saturation state and offers chemical buffer capacity to future ocean acidification.
Date of AwardDec 2017
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorCarlos Duarte (Supervisor)


  • Macrophyte
  • Photosynthesis
  • Calcification
  • Seagrass
  • Macroalgae
  • Red Sea

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