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Temperature-dependent photosynthesis in the intertidal alga Fucus

gardneri and sensitivity to ongoing climate change

Nicholas B. Colvard
, Emily Carrington
, Brian Helmuth
Marine Science Center, Northeastern University, Nahant, MA 01908, USA
Department of Biology and Friday Harbor Laboraties, University of Washington, Friday Harbor, WA, 98250, USA
a b s t r a c t a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history:
Received 10 February 2014
Received in revised form 29 April 2014
Accepted 1 May 2014
Available online 21 May 2014
Climate change
Fucus gardneri
Tidal cycle
Understanding the photosynthetic responses of marine macroalgae to changes in their thermal environment is
vital to characterizing the success of these habitat-forming primary producers in the face of climate change.
We measured net photosynthesis in apical tips of Fucus gardneri collected from the intertidal zone of Friday
Harbor, WAover a range of irradiance levels (01500 mol photons m
) at 10, 14, and 18 C to determine
levels of saturating irradiance. We then recorded net photosynthesis at saturating irradiance in tips exposed to
seawater temperatures ranging from 6 to 22 C, as well as dark respiration. Results show that F. gardneri at
this location has a peak in net photosynthesis at 1618 C seawater temperature, with signicant declines in
net photosynthesis at 20 and 22 C. Respiration showed a positive linear relationship with increasing seawater
temperature. Using archived seawater temperature, irradiance, and tidal data, we produced a model of net pho-
tosynthesis over two years (October 2010October 2012). Maximal seawater temperatures recorded at FHL
rarely exceeded 14 C, suggesting that an increase of +2 and +4 C in seawater temperature would lead to
increased net photosynthesis at this site. These results allowed us to develop a predictive model to forecast the
net photosynthesis of F. gardneri at different intertidal elevations to explore the effects of seawater temperature
and irradiance on net photosynthesis. We also examined the effects of the timing of high tide, testing the hypoth-
esis that net photosynthesis will be highest at sites where submersion occurs during peak levels of irradiance. Our
results suggest that as seawater temperatures increase (up to +4 C above ambient) F. gardneri below +1 m
MLLWtidal elevation will experience increases innet photosynthesis. These analyses also suggest that the effects
of environmental change may depend in part on tidal regime, which determines the extent to which algae are
submerged during times of day when irradiance is high.
2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
A fundamental goal of global climate change research is to under-
stand how organisms will likely respond physiologically to novel envi-
ronmental conditions (Chown and Gaston, 1999; Somero, 2002) and
how the inuence of climatic factors may be modied by other non-
climatic factors (e.g., Mislan et al., 2011). Intertidal and shallowsubtidal
organisms have long served as model systems for examining the im-
pacts of the physical environment on patterns of distribution in nature
(Paine, 1994). To this end, many studies have examined the effects of
lethal temperatures in setting the local and geographic distribution
of intertidal and shallow subtidal organisms (Wethey et al., 2011). A
number of recent studies have emphasized the importance of also
considering the sublethal effects of environmental change on marine
animals (Howard et al., 2013), for example the inuence of temperature
on rates of foraging (Kordas et al., 2011; Sanford, 2002), growth
(Almada-Villela et al., 1982), and reproduction (Petes et al., 2008).
Comparable studies of macroalgae have been conducted examining
the effects of temperature and desiccation on rates of survival, photo-
synthesis, and growth (Bell, 1993; Matta and Chapman, 1995; Zou
et al., 2007). A principal consideration is the importance of local factors,
often non-climatic in nature, in modifying the inuence of environmen-
tal factors related to climate change. For example, wave exposure and
the timing of low tide can signicantly affect the risk of thermal stress
in intertidal organisms (Mislan et al., 2011), and the vulnerability of
invertebrates to thermal stress can be signicantly affected by food
supply and the presence of other stressors, such as pollution (Howard
et al., 2013).
Several studies have shown that, for some populations, small
increases in temperature may lead to increases in performance,
especially at a species' poleward distributional limits or to decreases at
their equatorial limits (Howard et al., 2013; Somero, 2002). Other stud-
ies have suggested that prolonged exposure to sublethal conditions can
lead to large-scale mortality due to the cumulative effects of environ-
mental stress on energetics (Woodin et al., 2013). Surprisingly, how-
ever, while lethal thermal limits have been relatively well studied for
many species, complete thermal performance curves describing the
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 458 (2014) 612
Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 781 581 7370x331; fax: +1 781 581 6076.
E-mail address: (N.B. Colvard).
0022-0981/ 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
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effects of temperature on marine organism performance are compara-
tively rare (Monaco and Helmuth, 2011). In cases where we do have a
thorough knowledge of how populations are likely to respond to tem-
perature, studies have shown that local adaptation (Kuo and Sanford,
2009) and low genetic diversity (Pearson et al., 2010) can potentially
create large differences in thermal tolerance between populations and
among closely related species. This lack of information for many ecolog-
ically important species limits our ability to predict how changing
temperatures likely impact marine ecosystems.
In this study we explore the effects of seawater temperature and
irradiance on a common, ecologically important species of marine
alga, Fucus gardneri. F. gardneri serves as a primary producer for the
mid-intertidal region, and thus as a food source for littorine snails,
isopods, and amphipods, and can produce large algal mats that serve
as protectionfor intertidal invertebrates (Dethier, 1982). Given this spe-
cies' foundational ecological role in the Northeastern Pacic intertidal
zone, an explicit understanding of how F. gardneri is likely to respond
to ongoing change is paramount. It is well understood that temperature
and irradiance inuence photosynthesis in fucoids (Kraufvelin et al.,
2012; Nygard and Dring, 2008; Williams and Dethier, 2005). For
example, Dethier and Williams (2009) showed that F. gardneri photo-
synthesis, growth, and reproduction were most inuenced by seasonal
differences inenvironmental temperature andirradiance levels. Previous
studies of brown algae have documented the effects of irradiance levels
on photosynthetic capacity (Dring and Brown, 1982; Dromgoole, 1987,
1988; Johnson et al., 1998; Williams and Dethier, 2005), somatic growth
(Davison and Pearson, 1996; Dethier and Williams, 2009; Falkowski and
LaRoche, 1991; Kim et al., 2011; Kbler and Dudgeon, 1996; Lning,
1971), and reproductive development (Davison and Pearson, 1996;
Dethier and Williams, 2009). Several studies have also evaluated the
photosynthetic performance of macroalgae in relation to environmental
temperature (Bell, 1993; Kim et al., 2011; Kbler and Davison, 1993;
Matta and Chapman, 1995; Williams and Dethier, 2005), where many
have found an initial positive relationship between photosynthesis and
increases in seawater temperature above current eld conditions.
Research on Fucus vesiculosus (Alexandridis et al., 2012; Kraufvelin
et al., 2012; Middelboe et al., 2006; Nygard and Dring, 2008; Terry and
Moss, 1981) has demonstrated howlight and temperature can inuence
germination, recruitment, growth, and photosynthesis in this alga.
Although previous research has evaluated the photosynthetic activity
of the Pacic species F. gardneri (previously F. distichus) to environmental
change (Johnson et al., 1974; Quadir et al., 1979; Williams and Dethier,
2005), these studies evaluated photosynthesis under a fairly narrow
temperature range (e.g., summer temperatures).
Our study expands upon previous work examining F. gardneri pho-
tosynthesis in order to characterize how this species will likely respond
to a range of seawater temperatures including those predicted in the
near future. As previously described for other algal species (Bell, 1993;
Dromgoole, 1988; Williams and Dethier, 2005), we hypothesized that
increased seawater temperature would generally increase net photo-
synthesis in F. gardneri up to some (previously unidentied) optimal
temperature, but beyond this thermal optimum productivity would
decline (Davison and Pearson, 1996). We further quantied patterns
of seawater temperature in the intertidal zone at FHL to determine
how close environmental conditions at this site currently are relative
to this species' thermal optimum and how future increases in seawater
temperature will likely affect F. gardneri populations. Finally, we evalu-
ated the potential role of the tidal regime in driving sensitivity to envi-
ronmental change. While it is well recognized that the timing of low
tide determines the frequency by which organisms are exposed at low
tide to extreme aerial conditions of temperature and desiccation during
the hottest parts of the day (Helmuth et al., 2002; Orton, 1929), a less
explored corollary for intertidal algae is that maximal levels of photo-
synthesis are likely to occur when high tides occur mid-day when
irradiance levels are highest. The primary goals of this research were
to (a) determine the photosynthetic performance curve for F. gardneri
with increasing temperature at a saturating irradiance and in the dark;
(b) develop a generic net photosynthesis model that can be used to pre-
dict net photosynthesis (P
) under a range of future temperature and
irradiance combinations at FHL; (c) to explore the relative importance
of the timing of hightide in driving sensitivity to environmental change;
and (d) evaluate whether the current southern range limit of F. gardneri
is likely to be set by temperature.
2. Materials and methods
2.1. Study location and algal collection
All algal specimens were collected from the mid-intertidal region
(~0.51 m above Mean Lower Low Water, MLLW) along the coastline
near FHL between May and August 2012. This tidal elevation harbors
dense Fucus algal mats as well as herbivorous grazing littorine snails,
isopods, and amphipods (Dethier, 1982; Dethier et al., 2005). All algal
specimens collected were free of grazers and epiphytes, and had mini-
mal tissue damage to the thallus or wing regions.
Seawater temperatures collected from October 2010October 2012
( showed that seawater
temperature at FHL rarely drops below 7 C, and rarely exceeds 14 C
at 1.7 m depth (Fig. 1); though surface waters can exceed 14 C on
warmsummer days. Future climate models suggest an average increase
in sea surface temperature of 2.3 C by the year 2090 for the North
Pacic region (IPCC, 2007). Maximal water temperatures near the
equatorial edge of this species' southern range (Monterey Bay, CA) are
approximately 17.4 C from 2010 to 2012 ( We
therefore selected a temperature range of 6 to 22 C for our experi-
ments, to encompass temperatures experienced by this species over
much of its range, both now and in the near future.
All F. gardneri were maintained in a ow-through seawater table
where they were kept for 2472 hbefore photosynthetic measurements
were conducted. Experiments were conducted on the apical tip, the
growing region, which was cut from a whole algal thallus 24 h prior
to photosynthesis measurements to avoid wounding response. At
the end of the experiment, the dry weights of all algal tissues were
Fig. 1. Frequency distribution of surface seawater temperatures from October 2010 to
October 2012 at Friday Harbor Laboratories, Washington (
fhl/fhl_wx.html). The rst peak in the frequency of temperature (78.5 C) is largely
based on fall and winter-time measurements, whereas the second peak (9.510.5 C) is
primarily comprised of spring and summer time measurements. The inset gure is of
time-series data from which the frequency distribution was calculated, with hourly
seawater temperature measurements ranging from 6 to 16 C (y-axis) from October
2010 to October 2012 (x-axis).
7 N.B. Colvard et al. / Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 458 (2014) 612
measured (dried to constant weight at 80 C) in order to standardize all
photosynthetic measurements.
2.2. Photosynthetic measurements of Fucus gardneri
Net photosynthesis of the apical tips (~2 cm
) of F. gardneri
was measured using a Hansatech DW3 chamber system (Hansatech,
Norfolk England) with a Clark-type oxygen electrode (Bell, 1993;
Maberly, 1992). This 10 mL closed volume chamber was temperature-
controlled by a recirculating water jacket connected to a chiller, and
a 300-W quartz-halogen lamp projector was used as an external
light source and light levels were manipulated using neutral density
lters. All seawater used in the experiments was ltered through a
10-micron lter bag, and the seawater was replaced for each individual
alga measured.
A preliminary set of experiments was conducted to quantify the sat-
urating irradiance for F. gardneri apical tips by recording photosynthesis
as a function of irradiance (PI curves) at 10, 14, and 18 C 0.1 C.
These seawater temperatures are representative of ambient (recorded
temperature), high, and extreme (respectively) summer conditions at
FHL. The PI curves were generated using a range of irradiance levels
from 0 to 1500 mol photons m
. Specimens were dark acclimat-
ed for 1 h before respiration measurements. Apical tips (n =3 per tem-
perature) were non-reproductive (0.021 0.005 g dry wt., n = 9) to
avoid tissue that did not contribute to photosynthesis (Fig. S1). Oxygen
production was calculated based on rate of change in O
, normalized by
dry oven weight of the algal tissue.
A curve was t to all points in each of the three PI curves using the
following equation (Jassby and Platt, 1976):
gross; max
tanh I=P
gross; max
h i
where P
is net photosynthesis (mol O
g dry wt.
), P
is the maximum rate of gross photosynthesis at saturating irradi-
ance (mol O
g dry wt.
), is the initial slope of the curve
([mol O
g dry wt.
][mol photons m
), I is irradiance
(mol photons m
), and R
is the respiration rate in the dark
(mol O
g dry wt.
). P
was calculated posthoc from
(the maximum rate of net photosynthesis at a saturating
irradiance [mol O
g dry wt.
]) and R
, where P
+ R
. The saturation irradiance (I
) was determined by
/. These parameters allowed us to further test the photo-
synthetic performance of F. gardneri conditioned with a range of
2.3. Effect of seawater temperature on photosynthesis
We measured net photosynthesis of F. gardneri under saturating
irradiance at 2 C intervals between 6 and 22 C. Based on the results
of the preliminary PI curves (above), which showed no signicant
difference in saturating irradiance (I
) among the three temperatures
tested, we used an irradiance of 1400 mol photons m
for all
measurements, as this level was reliably above minimumsatu-
rating irradiance for all temperatures. For the dark respiration measure-
ments, all algal tissue was dark-adapted for at least 1 h. We measured 10
replicate apical tips of F. gardneri for each temperature evaluated.
2.4. Net photosynthesis model
Using parameters from our net photosynthesis measurements
in conjunction with varying irradiance (I, 01500 mol photons
) and water temperature (622 C) combinations, we devel-
oped a simple model to predict net photosynthesis (P
). This predic-
tive model is based on best curve ts for P
(second order
polynomial curve t) and R
(a linear equation); both parameters are
dependent on seawater temperature. However, there were no differ-
ences in initial slope of the PI curve () between temperatures, there-
fore a xed value was used for all conditions. The P
model, which is
dependent only on water temperature and irradiance, is valid only for
submersed conditions, and we are assuming that P
0 during aerial
exposure, since the mean net photosynthesis for F. gardneri has been
shown to be as much as two orders of magnitude lower in air than in
water (Williams and Dethier, 2005).
We then used this model to reconstruct P
based on environmental
conditions recorded at FHL over two years (October 2010October
2012) ( Seawater tem-
perature was measured in situ and underwater downwelling irradiance
was estimated fromsurface irradiance and water depth following Beer's
z I
where I
is the downwelling underwater irradiance (mol photons
) at depth z (in meters), I
is the downwelling irradiance mea-
sured in air (mol photons m
), K
is the vertical light attenuation
coefcient for summer (0.373 m
, based on Dethier and Williams,
2009). Tidal predictions were used to estimate water depth (z) at an
intertidal elevation of +1 m MLLW (Xtide,
tide). Thus, when the predicted tidal level was b+1 m MLLW, then
the alga was assumed to be aerially exposed and P
= 0.
To evaluate the impact an increase in seawater temperature would
have on P
over the tidal range of F. gardneri, we calculated the yearly
average P
for FHL from hourly recorded data, and compared it to
simulated increases in temperature +2 C and +4 C above recorded
temperatures at intertidal elevations ranging from1.0 m to +2.5 m
MLLW, at 0.1 m intervals. Using only recorded temperature conditions
at FHL, we then manipulated the timing of the tide to quantify yearly
average P
, shifting the tidal timing at FHL by 6 h, 3 h, +3 h,
and +6 h from ambient (+0 h difference). We then evaluated the dif-
ference inyearly average P
at the ve tidal adjustments using the tidal
cycle at Tatoosh Island, WA. Tatoosh Island is located ~190 km west of
FHL, typically exhibiting a 35 h difference in tidal timing ahead of
FHL (Xtide). Preliminary results suggested that the greatest difference
in yearly average P
was between +0 m and 0.5 m MLLW intertidal
elevation, therefore we used these two elevations to explore the effects
of exposure and submersion time on yearly average P
In order to evaluate the likelihood that the southern latitudinal
range limit of F. gardneri was set by seawater temperature conditions,
we compared the yearly average P
using temperatures recorded
during 20102012 at FHL, as well as at Monterey, CA, the recorded
southern limit of F. gardneri (Blanchette et al., 2008), and at San Diego,
CA, considerably farther south than the current range limit. We also
estimated P
at each of these sites using temperature increases
of 2 C and 4 C above current conditions. Seawater temperature data
for the three sites were obtained from NOAA Buoy Center (www.ndbc. We recognize that this analysis is based only on seawater
temperatures, and thus ignores all other environmental conditions
likely to change over this range. The analysis also does not consider
any potential physiological differences among populations. However,
we made the assumption that if any differences do exist, populations
farther south are likely to be even more thermally tolerant than those
at FHL. Our comparison thus provides a conservative estimate of yearly
average P
for F. gardneri along the northeastern Pacic, and actual
values could be higher at southern sites if algae were acclimatized or
adapted to those conditions.
A linear regression was used to determine the relationship between
algal respiration and temperature. A two-factor mixed model ANOVA
was used to compare yearly average P
at FHL at current temperatures
and increases of 2 C and 4 C with changes in tidal elevation. Sensitivity
analyses were used to evaluate differences in yearly average P
tween FHL and Tatoosh Island, and compare yearly average P
8 N.B. Colvard et al. / Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 458 (2014) 612
response to temperature differences between latitudinal sites (Friday
Harbor, WA, Monterey, CA, and San Diego, CA). All statistical tests
were run with Systat 12.
3. Results
3.1. Effect of seawater temperature on photosynthesis
Best curve ts were applied to the photosynthetic performance
measurements of F. gardneri in response to changes in temperature in
the dark (R
) and at a saturating irradiance (P
) (Fig. 2). A linear
regression analysis showed a signicant increase in respiration, R
, with
temperature (r
= 0.798, P b 0.001) from 34.70 2.41 mol CO
g dry wt.
at 6 C up to 49.33 3.17 mol CO
g dry wt.
at 22 C. A non-linear regression (second order polynomial) curve was
t to the photosynthesis data to describe the effect of temperature on
, and showed a maximum value of 16 C, followed by a de-
crease in P
from 18 to 22 C (Fig. 2). Temperature had a small
effect on the light-saturated, maximum rate of photosynthesis of sub-
merged F. gardneri, with Q
values of 1.52 at 616 C, 1.59 at 818 C,
and 1.15 at 1020 C, demonstrating the greatest rate of change in pho-
tosynthesis associated to temperature change for the 818 Crange, and
quickly declining for the 1020 C range.
3.2. Net photosynthesis model
The predictive model of P
for F. gardneri based on the measured
seawater temperature and downwelling irradiance calculated from
aerial measurements at FHL (shown as points overlaid on the contour
plot, Fig. 3), suggest that submerged F. gardneri at FHL never experienced
temperatures above optimal levels. The two-factor mixed model ANOVA
showed a signicant difference in net photosynthesis for F. gardneri
when evaluating the interaction of tidal elevation temperature change
= 3.939, P = 0.022) (Fig. S2). As expected, simulations showthat
photosynthesis decreases with increased tidal elevation, especially N+
1 m MLLW.
The P
model simulations for different adjustments to the timing of
the tide for FHL showed the greatest increase in P
with shifts in tidal
timing of 6 h and +6 h (Fig. S3). Using tide predictions for Tatoosh
Fig. 2. Maximum gross photosynthesis (P
gross, max
-closed circles) and dark respiration
-open circles) for apical tips of Fucus gardneri in seawater. Symbols are means
SE of n = 10 replicates per temperature. A linear regression analysis showed there
was a signicant increase (r
= 0.798, P b 0.001) in R
(mol CO
g dry wt
increasing with temperature, from 6 to 22 C. For P
(mol O
g dry wt
the photosynthetic output increases with temperature up to 18 C, after which P
shows a decline at 20 and 22 C.
Fig. 3. Contour plot of the predictive model of P
for Fucus gardneri (mol O
g dry wt.
) for a range of irradiance (01500 mol photons m
) and seawater temperature
(622 C) combinations. The overlaidpoints are environmental data basedontemperature
and underwater irradiance measurements from October 2010 to October 2012 at Friday
Harbor Laboratories, WA.
Fig. 4. The P
model simulations using ambient temperature conditions, evaluating the
difference in tidal timing for 0 m tidal elevation (A) and 0.5 m tide tidal elevation (B) for
Friday Harbor Laboratories (black bars) and Tatoosh Island (white bars). The yearly average
for the ve tidal timing shifts (6 h to +6 h) showed the lowest P
at 0 h tidal timing
for FHL, but was lowest at +3hfor TatooshIslandat 0mand0.5mtidal elevationof the alga.
9 N.B. Colvard et al. / Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 458 (2014) 612
Island, only 6 h and 3 h tidal timing shift predicted an increase in
yearly average P
for all intertidal elevations. However, a tidal timing
shift of +6 h caused a decrease in P
at tidal elevations b+1 m
MLLW, but an increase in P
at tidal elevations N+1 m MLLW
(Fig. S3). The yearly average P
for shifts in tidal timings demonstrated
the lowest P
at 0 h tidal timing for FHL at 0 m and 0.5 m tidal eleva-
tion, however for Tatoosh Island, yearly average P
was lowest at
+3 h for both tidal elevations (Fig. 4).
The model simulations evaluating yearly average P
for current
recorded temperatures (+0 C), and increases of 2 C and 4 C for San
Diego, CA, Monterey, CA, and Friday Harbor, WA revealed differences
in sensitivity to temperature increases between the three locations,
but more importantly show that the current southern limits is likely
not set by thermal performance (Fig. 5). Modeled P
for San Diego,
CA temperatures showed positive yearly average P
, even though
this location is further south than the southern range limit for this
species (Blanchette et al., 2008). However, the model predictions for
this location suggest a decline in P
with increased seawater tempera-
ture, assuming that thermal sensitivity is comparable to algae from the
northern site. In contrast, there is no difference in yearly average P
F. gardneri based on current and projected temperatures for Monterey,
CA. And nally, yearly average P
at FHL is predicted to increase with
increasing seawater temperature (Fig. 5).
4. Discussion
This study demonstrated that the photosynthetic response of
F. gardneri is strongly dependent on surrounding seawater temperature
at highlevels of irradiance, andthat at most sites anincrease inseawater
temperature will either have no effect on performance, or will slightly
increase photosynthetic performance. Whereas previous studies have
explored the plasticity of fucoids to wave action (Blanchette et al.,
2000; Dethier and Williams, 2009), desiccation (Dethier and Williams,
2009; Gylle et al., 2009; Harker et al., 1999), and habitat type
(Chapman, 1995; Schonbeck and Norton, 1978, 1980; Wernberg et al.,
2011), this study is one of the rst to characterize the net photosynthe-
sis of F. gardneri under a range of irradiance and temperature combina-
tions in submerged conditions (but see Alexandridis et al., 2012).
Our results show that 1618 C is the optimal temperature for
F. gardneri in submerged conditions at Friday Harbor, suggesting a
strong link between the organism's tness and the thermal envi-
ronment (Prtner, 2010) while undergoing maximum rates of gross
photosynthesis. The initial positive effect of temperature (b16 C) is
attributed to the role of temperature in carbon xation during photo-
synthesis up to a thermal maximum (Davison, 1991). This increase in
photosynthetic activity to increasing temperature is quantied by a
value, which for F. gardneri has been shown to vary between 1.1
Fig. 5. Fucus gardneri yearly average P
model predictions for current recorded temperatures (+0 C), and increases of 2 C and 4 C for Friday Harbor, WA (insert A), Monterey, CA
(insert B), and San Diego, CA(insert C). The dashedline (near Monterey, CA) is the currently recordedsouthernlimit of F. gardneri (Blanchette et al., 2008). These data showyearly average
is predicted to increase with increasing seawater temperature for Friday Harbor, WA, not differ in yearly average P
for Monterey, CA, and decline in P
with increased seawater
temperature in San Diego, CA. However, San Diego, CA is modeled to have positive net photosynthesis, though this location is further south than the southern limit of Fucus algae in
the northeastern Pacic.
10 N.B. Colvard et al. / Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 458 (2014) 612
and 1.5 (Madsen and Maberly, 1990, present study), for temperatures
between 6 and 20 C. Reduction in gross photosynthesis at tem-
peratures above 18 C can be attributed to several factors such as tem-
perature sensitive enzymes of photophosphorylation and electron
transport and plastoquinone diffusion (Davison, 1991). Oxygen-
dependent thermal tolerance could also explain the near linear increase
in respiration with increasing temperature observed in submerged
conditions (Allakhverdiev et al., 2008; Zou et al., 2007). However, our
results should be interpreted with caution because they were conduct-
ed on individuals from one location; there was a low power of compar-
ison among the PI curves (n =3 per temperature), and because the net
photosynthesis model is based on the algal tissue from the apical tip
rather than the entire thalli. Moreover, experiments measuring temper-
ature effects were conducted at saturating irradiance, and modeled at
lower irradiance levels using a generic PI curve. Thus, explicit tests at
lower irradiance levels are still needed. Additionally, we did not account
for the effect of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) on Fucus photosynthetic
activity over the range of temperatures evaluated; however, we suggest
that in situ UVR may also affect macroalgal net photosynthesis, primar-
ily during shallow submerged conditions and aerial exposure (Raven
and Hurd, 2012).
The optimumtemperature of 16 C is ~2 C warmer than the highest
recorded seawater temperature at FHL from2010 to 2012. This suggests
that F. gardneri may be able to withstand the projected average sea-
water temperature increase of 2.3 C by the year 2090 for the North
Pacic region. Notably, however, this increase is based on changes in
average conditions only and it is highly likely that temperatures in
excess of the optimum will occur during rare, extreme events such as
those recorded in other parts of the world. For example, in summer
2012 temperatures in the Gulf of Maine were up to 3 C higher than
the 19822011 climatology (Mills et al., 2013). Somero (2010) sug-
gestedthat with projectedfuture climate change and organismacclima-
tization to increasing temperature, there will be winners and losers in
the intertidal; the ndings fromthis study suggest F. gardneri at FHL will
likely increase net photosynthesis with increasing seawater tempera-
tures. These simulations predict that F. gardneri at low tidal elevations
(b+1 mMLLW) will experience anapproximately 10%increase inyear-
ly average photosynthesis with a 4 C increase in seawater temperature
above ambient.
The comparison of the P
models for F. gardneri based on tidal
timing suggests that the timing of high tide can theoretically inuence
yearly net photosynthesis by as much as 25% (Fig. 4). The tidal timing
and submergence time can inuence photosynthesis by determining
algal submergence during midday irradiance exposure, though this is
dependent on tidal elevation of Fucus algae. The tidal regimes of FHL
and Tatoosh Island demonstrate that the timing of the tide, tidal
range, anddurationof exposure time betweenthese two locations inu-
ences yearly average P
of F. gardneri; however, these effects are likely
to be compounded with differences in irradiance and water tempera-
ture between the two sites. The P
model simulations showed FHL
tidal timing manipulations caused the greatest change in net photosyn-
thesis when shifting the tide 6 h and +6 h from current conditions
(i.e., ambient), though Tatoosh Island demonstrated an increase in net
photosynthesis when shifting the tide 6 h and 3 h from ambient.
Because simulations for Tatoosh Island used the same environmental
temperature and irradiance conditions measured at FHL, differences
observed in the yearly average P
are only attributable to differences
in tidal timing and range for these two locations, and do not include
the effects of differences in other environmental conditions (e.g., irradi-
ance, water temperature).
The P
model comparison for temperature data from San Diego,
CA, Monterey, CA, and Friday Harbor, WA suggests that F. gardneri
has a positive net photosynthesis at all three locations, though
Monterey, CA has been identied as the approximate southern
limit of this species. This suggests the southern limit for F. gardneri
is not solely temperature dependent, and is potentially limited by
other environmental conditions (i.e., spatial competition, foraging
pressure), or by some combination of stressors. However, macroalgae
at the more southern sites are expected to display a reduced photosyn-
thetic response withincreasing temperature conditions, whereas Friday
Harbor shows a continued increase in photosynthesis with an increase
of 2 and 4 C in seawater temperature.
Future applications of this P
model should incorporate aerial
exposure and other abiotic conditions and biotic interactions that are
driving Fucus tness in the intertidal zone. Duration of aerial exposure
and environmental conditions during exposure can dictate algal success
and net photosynthesis (Williams and Dethier, 2005). In our simple P
model we suspended photosynthetic activity during aerial exposure
and did not account for potential deleterious effects of desiccation,
UVR, and heat stress during low tide events, especially during warm
summer days. Other abiotic conditions that may inuence photosynthe-
sis along with temperature and irradiance are nutrient levels (Nygard
and Dring, 2008), salinity (Gylle et al., 2009; Nygard and Dring, 2008),
and CO
concentrations (Zou and Gao, 2002). Future studies can explore
the role these other environmental conditions may have on the P
F. gardneri.
This study is an initial step at describing the net photosynthesis of
F. gardneri using a range of seawater temperatures, and therefore is a
critical rst step that can be expanded upon to explore how other envi-
ronmental factors (e.g., salinity, grazing pressure, water motion, and
aerial exposure) contribute to net photosynthesis in this intertidal alga.
Supplementary data to this article can be found online at http://dx.
This work was supported by an Alan and Marian Kohn Fellowship
to NC from UW Friday Harbor Laboratories, as well as the US National
Science Foundation (NSF OCE_0926581 to BH and OCE_ 0824903
to EC) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA
NNX07AF20G to BH). We are grateful to M. Bracken and M. Zippay for
their comments on previous drafts of this manuscript. We would like
to thank two anonymous reviewers and editorial comments for improv-
ing this manuscript. We thank K. Sebens and the staff of the Friday
Harbor Laboratories for hosting our visit, as well as H. Hayford, O.
Moulton, and L. Newcomb for their support in the data collection. This
is publication number 314 of the Northeastern University Marine
Science Center. [SS]
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