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Ontogenic variation and effect of collection procedure on leaf biomechanical properties of Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile
de los Santos, C.B.; Vicencio-Rammsy, B.; Lepoint, G.; Remy, F.; Bouma, T.J.; Gobert, S. (2016). Ontogenic variation and effect of collection procedure on leaf biomechanical properties of Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile. Mar. Ecol. (Berl.) 37(4): 750-759.
In: Marine Ecology (Berlin). Blackwell: Berlin. ISSN 0173-9565; e-ISSN 1439-0485, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Posidonia oceanica (Linnaeus) Delile, 1813 [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Biomechanics; leaf age; non-destructive shoot method; plant ontogeny; seagrass; stiffness; strength

Authors  Top 
  • de los Santos, C.B.
  • Vicencio-Rammsy, B., more
  • Lepoint, G., more

    Leaf mechanical traits are important to understand how aquatic plants fracture and deform when subjected to abiotic (currents or waves) or biotic (herbivory attack) mechanical forces. The likely occurrence of variation during leaf ontogeny in these traits may thus have implications for hydrodynamic performance and vulnerability to herbivory damage, and may be associated with changes in morphologic and chemical traits. Seagrasses, marine flowering plants, consist of shoot bundles holding several leaves with different developmental stages, in which outer older leaves protect inner younger leaves. In this study we examined the long-lived seagrass Posidonia oceanica to determine ontogenic variation in mechanical traits across leaf position within a shoot, representing different developmental stages. Moreover, we investigated whether or not the collection procedure (classical uprooted shoot versus non-destructive shoot method: cutting the shoot without a portion of rhizome) and time span after collection influence mechanical measurements. Neither collection procedure nor time elapsed within 48 h of collection affected measurements of leaf biomechanical traits when seagrass shoots were kept moist in dark cool conditions. Ontogenic variation in mechanical traits in P. oceanica leaves over intermediate and adult developmental stages was observed: leaves weakened and lost stiffness with aging, while mid-aged leaves (the longest and thickest ones) were able to withstand higher breaking forces. In addition, younger leaves had higher nitrogen content and lower fiber content than older leaves. The observed patterns may explain fine-scale within-shoot ecological processes of leaves at different developmental stages, such as leaf shedding and herbivory consumption in P. oceanica.

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