Mediterranean Seagrass Growth and Demography Responses to Experimental Warming

Ylva S. Olsen, María Sánchez-Camacho, Núria Marbà, Carlos M. Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1205-1213
Number of pages9
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cymodocea nodosa
  • Demography
  • Global warming
  • Growth
  • Posidonia oceanica
  • Seedlings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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