Response of the seagrass Halophila ovalis to altered light quality in a simulated dredge plume

Abstract

Seagrass meadows are globally threatened, largely through activities that reduce light quantity (photosynthetic photon flux density) such as dredging. However, these activities can simultaneously alter the spectral quality of light. Previous studies showed that Halophila ovalis seagrass productivity is reduced under monochromatic yellow/green light, wavelengths associated with dredge plumes, but it is unclear how they respond to spectra produced by real dredging projects. We simultaneously subjected adult H. ovalis plants to altered light quality and quantity simulating a real commercial dredging operation (15mgL-1 TSS, 50 and 200μmol photonsm-2s-1). There was a significant effect of reduced light quantity on physiological and morphological variables and a significant effect of light quality on the pigment antheraxanthin. The lack of effect of light quality on growth indicates that while seagrass are sensitive to changes in light quality, natural- and anthropogenic-driven changes may not always be sufficient to produce strong effects on H. ovalis.

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