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No whirlwind romance: typhoons, temperature and the failure of reproduction in Caulacanthus okamurae (Gigartinales, Rhodophyta)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2001

Department of Marine Biology, Pukyong National University, Nam-gu, Pusan, 608–737, Korea
Department of Marine Biology, Pukyong National University, Nam-gu, Pusan, 608–737, Korea
Port Erin Marine Laboratory (School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool), Port Erin, Isle of Man IM9 6JA, UK
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The red alga Caulacanthus okamurae Yamada occurs commonly on the coasts of South Korea, but reproductive plants have rarely been found in the field. Seasonality of field populations was examined and the temperature responses of growth and reproduction were determined in laboratory cultures. In the field, monthly average temperatures of surface seawater ranged from 12·7 °C±0·73 (SD) to 21 °C±1·19. Monthly mean biomass in 25×25 cm quadrats (n = 3) ranged from 11·2±9·6 g m−2 (SD) to 148·8±19·2 g m−2 in wet weight with minimal biomass in February 1995 and maximal values in August. In culture, the growth of vegetative plants and germination of tetraspores of C. okamurae occurred at temperatures from 13 to 27 °C. Tetrasporangia, gametangia and cystocarps were formed at 19 °C and above, but not at 13 or 16 °C, indicating that reproduction is directly affected by seawater temperature. On the basis of these data, seawater temperature was above the critical temperature for reproduction from August to October (20–21 °C) yet only three plants with tetrasporangial branches were found in the field. In September the biomass of C. okamurae declined sharply following severe storm damage. Thus, the absence of reproductive organs in field populations of C. okamurae may occur because they inhabit a seasonally stressful habitat, in which typhoon damage removes branches before the water temperature becomes favourable for reproduction.

Research Article
2001 British Phycological Society

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