Adaptations to light by a temperate seagrass, Zostaro: marina L. (eelgrass), were investigated along a depth transect representing a gradient of plant development. Various light adaptive strategies are proposed in a conceptual model and tested along the natural gradient and under in situ light manipulation experiments. The major light capturing strategy which Zostera employs is that of changing leaf area. Chlorophyll a to b ratios and amounts, measures of adaptation to light quality and quantity, demonstrated little or no adaptive trends when integrative samples were used. The altered light experiments did not affect chlorophyll content but did affect leaf production rates. Although the relative vertical distribution of leaf area is constant along the transect, the absolute leaf area varies, as measured by leaf area index (LAI = area of leaves/area of bottom). A measured maximum LAI of 17 is higher than other aquatic and most terrestrial ecosystems.
Thesis (M.S.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1979
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