The allometric scaling of resource demand and translocation within seagrass clones to plant size (i.e. shoot mass and rhizome diameter), shoot production and leaf turnover was examined in situ in eight seagrass species (Cymodocea nodosa, Cymodocea serrulata, Halophila stipulacea, Halodule uninervis, Posidonia oceanica, Thalassodendron ciliatum, Thalassia hemprichii and Zostera noltii), encompassing most of the size range present in seagrass flora. One fully developed shoot on each experimental rhizome was incubated for 2-3 h with a pulse of NaH13CO3 (235 μmol) and 15NH 4Cl (40 μmol). The mobilisation of incorporated tracers across the clone was examined 4 days later. Carbon and nitrogen demand for shoot production across seagrass species scaled at half of the shoot mass, whereas seagrass leaves incorporated tracers (13C and 15N) at rates proportional to the shoot mass. The shoots of all seagrass species shared resources with neighbours, particularly with younger ones. The time scales of physiological integration and the absolute amount of resources shared by seagrass ramets scaled at 2.5 power of the rhizome diameter. Hence, the ramets of larger species were physiologically connected for longer time scales and share larger absolute amounts of resources with neighbours than those of smaller species. The different pattern of resource translocation exhibited by seagrasses helps explain the ecological role displayed by these species and the success of large seagrasses colonising nutrient-poor coastal areas, where they often dominate.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics