Indexed on: 22 Jul '16Published on: 22 Jul '16Published in: Journal of applied phycology
Seasonal environmental changes may significantly influence macroalgal diversity and biomass. Cryptogam species richness increases towards the poles, especially in sub-Antarctic environments. Yet, subpolar seaweed biodiversity and ecophysiology remain understudied even though it is essential for the management and sustainability of endemic species of significant economic interest (e.g., Gigartina skottsbergii). We evaluate the seasonality and ecophysiology of the different life phases of the rhodophyte G. skottsbergii by analyzing variation in fluorescence yield and photosynthetic pigment composition. There were significant seasonal differences in maximum relative electron transport rate (rETRmax) between gametophyte and tetrasporophyte phase, and between reproductive and vegetative specimens. Photosynthetic efficiency (α) was not significantly different between reproductive states of G. skottsbergii. We found significant differences in mean concentrations of allophycocyanin (APC), phycocyanin (PC), and chlorophyll a (Chl a) between gametophyte and tetrasporophyte phases. Results obtained provide new insight into seasonal acclimation patterns of an ecologically important species, which can be used for the design of appropriate management and cultivation strategies of G. skottsbergii towards the restoration of natural populations in fragile, subpolar regions where some of the last, relatively undisturbed communities of G. skottsbergii still remain.