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Developmental and Environmental Sources of Variation on Annual Growth Increments of Ascophyllum nodosum (Phaeophyceae)

  • Eckersley, Lindsay K. (Department of Biology, St. Francis Xavier University) ;
  • Garbary, David J. (Department of Biology, St. Francis Xavier University)
  • Published : 2007.06.01

Abstract

Annual growth segments of Ascophyllum nodosum (L.) Le Jolis (Fucales, Fucaceae) are denoted by air bladders that form each spring. By examining annual growth segments, it may be possible to infer information about the physical conditions during the growth period; however, it is uncertain whether the annual segments will expand in size after the initial growth. We examined A. nodosum segments from three populations in Nova Scotia, and statistically evaluated whether the annual growth (length, mass, and maximum diameter) of segments was independent of the age of the frond, whether the segments increased in size after the initial growth, and whether the segment lengths were correlated with mean water temperatures and mean air temperatures when the segments were formed. We found that the growth in length of A. nodosum is dependent on the age of the frond, but frond age explained less than 12 % of the overall variation in length. However, the mass and maximum diameter of segments were independent of the age of the frond. Differences occurred between the lengths of segments formed in different years, but there was no significant correlation with regional mean water or air temperatures. This study indicates that the length of A. nodosum segments may be an indicator of the annual physical characteristics of a site, but future studies are needed to identify which factors have the strongest influence on growth patterns.

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