Sea temperature shapes seasonal fluctuations in seaweed biomass within the Ningaloo coral reef ecosystem

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Abstract

Environmental drivers of seaweed biomass were investigated at Ningaloo, Western Australia, a coral reef ecosystem with negligible anthropogenic influences on seaweeds from fishing, farming, or eutrophication. Periodic surveys of benthic macroalgae occupying seaweed-dominated beds within the lagoon at two locations (Coral Bay, Tantabiddi) were made during winter, spring, and late summer over a 26 month period. Canopyforming Sargassum spp. biomass fluctuated over a seasonal growth-decay cycle, with highest values in the warm summer months (up to 1013 g fresh weight 0.25 m-2 at Coral Bay) and lowest values in winter (down to 155 g fresh weight 0.25 m-2 at Tantabiddi). Conversely, prominent understory seaweed genera Dictyopteris and Lobophora reached peak biomass in winter, when the Sargassum spp. canopy was lowest. Sargassum spp. biomass variation could be attributed largely to time (52%), location (21%), and site (26%), with low variation within individual seaweed beds (1%). Statistical analysis of the influence of five environmental variables (temperature, light, wind-driven upwelling, rainfall, significant wave height) indicated that location and sea temperature (1 month antecedent to biomass) provided the best explanation for Sargassum spp. biomass fluctuations. While sea temperature is a key driver of seaweed temporal dynamics, heterogeneity at the kilometer scale suggests that spatial context is also important. Given the important role of seaweeds in many ecosystem processes, this strong biophysical coupling between Sargassum spp. biomass and sea temperature suggests that thermal climate change will significantly affect coral reef productivity and biodiversity. © 2014, by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-166
Number of pages11
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Volume59
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2014

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seaweed
coral reefs
coral reef
macroalgae
Sargassum
seasonal variation
ecosystems
ecosystem
biomass
temperature
winter
coral
corals
significant wave height
limnology
individual variation
seasonal growth
summer
sea
oceanography

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title = "Sea temperature shapes seasonal fluctuations in seaweed biomass within the Ningaloo coral reef ecosystem",
abstract = "Environmental drivers of seaweed biomass were investigated at Ningaloo, Western Australia, a coral reef ecosystem with negligible anthropogenic influences on seaweeds from fishing, farming, or eutrophication. Periodic surveys of benthic macroalgae occupying seaweed-dominated beds within the lagoon at two locations (Coral Bay, Tantabiddi) were made during winter, spring, and late summer over a 26 month period. Canopyforming Sargassum spp. biomass fluctuated over a seasonal growth-decay cycle, with highest values in the warm summer months (up to 1013 g fresh weight 0.25 m-2 at Coral Bay) and lowest values in winter (down to 155 g fresh weight 0.25 m-2 at Tantabiddi). Conversely, prominent understory seaweed genera Dictyopteris and Lobophora reached peak biomass in winter, when the Sargassum spp. canopy was lowest. Sargassum spp. biomass variation could be attributed largely to time (52{\%}), location (21{\%}), and site (26{\%}), with low variation within individual seaweed beds (1{\%}). Statistical analysis of the influence of five environmental variables (temperature, light, wind-driven upwelling, rainfall, significant wave height) indicated that location and sea temperature (1 month antecedent to biomass) provided the best explanation for Sargassum spp. biomass fluctuations. While sea temperature is a key driver of seaweed temporal dynamics, heterogeneity at the kilometer scale suggests that spatial context is also important. Given the important role of seaweeds in many ecosystem processes, this strong biophysical coupling between Sargassum spp. biomass and sea temperature suggests that thermal climate change will significantly affect coral reef productivity and biodiversity. {\circledC} 2014, by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, Inc.",
author = "C.J. Fulton and Martial Depczynski and Thomas Holmes and M.M. Noble and Ben Radford and Thomas Wernberg and Shaun Wilson",
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T1 - Sea temperature shapes seasonal fluctuations in seaweed biomass within the Ningaloo coral reef ecosystem

AU - Fulton, C.J.

AU - Depczynski, Martial

AU - Holmes, Thomas

AU - Noble, M.M.

AU - Radford, Ben

AU - Wernberg, Thomas

AU - Wilson, Shaun

PY - 2014/1/9

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N2 - Environmental drivers of seaweed biomass were investigated at Ningaloo, Western Australia, a coral reef ecosystem with negligible anthropogenic influences on seaweeds from fishing, farming, or eutrophication. Periodic surveys of benthic macroalgae occupying seaweed-dominated beds within the lagoon at two locations (Coral Bay, Tantabiddi) were made during winter, spring, and late summer over a 26 month period. Canopyforming Sargassum spp. biomass fluctuated over a seasonal growth-decay cycle, with highest values in the warm summer months (up to 1013 g fresh weight 0.25 m-2 at Coral Bay) and lowest values in winter (down to 155 g fresh weight 0.25 m-2 at Tantabiddi). Conversely, prominent understory seaweed genera Dictyopteris and Lobophora reached peak biomass in winter, when the Sargassum spp. canopy was lowest. Sargassum spp. biomass variation could be attributed largely to time (52%), location (21%), and site (26%), with low variation within individual seaweed beds (1%). Statistical analysis of the influence of five environmental variables (temperature, light, wind-driven upwelling, rainfall, significant wave height) indicated that location and sea temperature (1 month antecedent to biomass) provided the best explanation for Sargassum spp. biomass fluctuations. While sea temperature is a key driver of seaweed temporal dynamics, heterogeneity at the kilometer scale suggests that spatial context is also important. Given the important role of seaweeds in many ecosystem processes, this strong biophysical coupling between Sargassum spp. biomass and sea temperature suggests that thermal climate change will significantly affect coral reef productivity and biodiversity. © 2014, by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, Inc.

AB - Environmental drivers of seaweed biomass were investigated at Ningaloo, Western Australia, a coral reef ecosystem with negligible anthropogenic influences on seaweeds from fishing, farming, or eutrophication. Periodic surveys of benthic macroalgae occupying seaweed-dominated beds within the lagoon at two locations (Coral Bay, Tantabiddi) were made during winter, spring, and late summer over a 26 month period. Canopyforming Sargassum spp. biomass fluctuated over a seasonal growth-decay cycle, with highest values in the warm summer months (up to 1013 g fresh weight 0.25 m-2 at Coral Bay) and lowest values in winter (down to 155 g fresh weight 0.25 m-2 at Tantabiddi). Conversely, prominent understory seaweed genera Dictyopteris and Lobophora reached peak biomass in winter, when the Sargassum spp. canopy was lowest. Sargassum spp. biomass variation could be attributed largely to time (52%), location (21%), and site (26%), with low variation within individual seaweed beds (1%). Statistical analysis of the influence of five environmental variables (temperature, light, wind-driven upwelling, rainfall, significant wave height) indicated that location and sea temperature (1 month antecedent to biomass) provided the best explanation for Sargassum spp. biomass fluctuations. While sea temperature is a key driver of seaweed temporal dynamics, heterogeneity at the kilometer scale suggests that spatial context is also important. Given the important role of seaweeds in many ecosystem processes, this strong biophysical coupling between Sargassum spp. biomass and sea temperature suggests that thermal climate change will significantly affect coral reef productivity and biodiversity. © 2014, by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, Inc.

U2 - 10.4319/lo.2014.59.1.0156

DO - 10.4319/lo.2014.59.1.0156

M3 - Article

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JF - Limnology and Oceanography

SN - 0024-3590

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