Effects of temperature on growth of Vallisneria americana in a sub-tropical estuarine environment
Bartleson, R.D., M.J. Hunt, and P.H. Doering
Published In 2014
Wetlands Ecology and Management 5:571–583
The submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) species Vallisneria americana Michx. (tape grass) is a valuable resource in the Caloosahatchee estuary and in many other aquatic systems. Given the variable nature of freshwater inflows and environmental conditions in the Caloosahatchee, it is necessary to understand how tape grass will respond to high and low salinity conditions at different light and temperature levels. Specifically, quantitative information is needed as input to modeling tools that can be applied to predict growth and survival of tape grass under a range of environmental conditions present in the estuary. We determined growth rates for small and medium sized tape grass plants obtained from the Caloosahatchee estuary, southwest coastal Florida, USA in freshwater (0.5 psu) under high (331 μE m−2 s−1) and low light (42 μE m−2 s−1) and at 10 psu under high light conditions. We ran six treatments at five temperatures spanning 13–32 °C for 8–9 weeks. The optimum temperature for growth was roughly 28 °C, with a minimum threshold temperature of 13 °C and a maximum threshold temperature of 38 °C. Plants grew fastest in freshwater, at high light and temperatures greater than 20 °C. The slowest growth rates were observed at 13 °C regardless of salinity, light or plant size. Our results suggest that tape grass growth is strongly influenced by water temperature and that additional stressors such as low light and elevated salinity can reduce the range of temperature tolerance, especially at colder water temperatures.