Phenology of the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile: Medium and long-term cycles and climate inferences

Andrea Peirano, Silvia Cocito, Valeria Banfi, Roberta Cupido, Valentina Damasso, Gianfranco Farina, Chiara Lombardi, Roberta Mauro, Carla Morri, Ingrid Roncarolo, Sarahi Saldaña, Dario Savini, Sergio Sgorbini, Cecilia Silvestri, Nicola Stoppelli, Leonardo Torricelli, Carlo Nike Bianchi

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The results of 15 years of monitoring of Posidonia oceanica in the " Cinque Terre" Marine Protected Area (NW Mediterranean) are presented. Seasonal data on meadow characteristics (cover and shoot density), plant phenology (leaf number, leaf length and width, leaf brown portion, undamaged leaves), lepidochronology, leaf epiphyte cover and herbivore pressure collected from three stations at 5, 10 and 17m depth were compared. Time-series analyses showed both medium-term (5<years) and long-term cycles (from 5 to more than 20 years). The comparison of annual cycles with sea surface temperatures (SST) and rainfall showed correlations that differed in relation to depth and, in the case of epiphytes, with each side (internal and external) of the leaf blade. Meadow parameters (visual cover, shoot percent cover) and plant parameters (leaf number, number of undamaged leaves, number of scales shoot-1) showed a positive trend in accordance with the rise of air and sea surface temperature recorded over these last decades. Shoot density and leaf width showed exceptions. Leaf length, leaf brown portion length and the number of undamaged leaves shoot-1showed positive or negative long-term trends, whose variability could not be related to climate data alone. The two major groups of epiphytes (encrusting algae and the bryozoan Electra posidoniae) showed negative trends. Grazing variability could be explained only partially by climate parameters. Epiphyte cover was found to be related to the NAO index. In conclusion, data showed that the effects of the climate change in terms of both sea surface temperature rising and rainfall decreasing may affect the growth cycles of P. oceanica on two levels: on a decadal level, with positive or negative trends in meadow and plant characteristics and in epiphyte cover; on yearly and seasonal levels, influencing endogenous plant growth rhythms, as in the case of leaf production cycle. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77 - 92
Number of pages16
JournalAquatic Botany
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science

Cite this

Peirano, A., Cocito, S., Banfi, V., Cupido, R., Damasso, V., Farina, G., Lombardi, C., Mauro, R., Morri, C., Roncarolo, I., Saldaña, S., Savini, D., Sgorbini, S., Silvestri, C., Stoppelli, N., Torricelli, L., & Bianchi, C. N. (2011). Phenology of the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile: Medium and long-term cycles and climate inferences. Aquatic Botany, 94(2), 77 - 92.