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Differences in the growth cycle of Ruppia cirrhosa (Petagna) Grande in a Mediterranean shallow system


Ruppia cirrhosa growth cycle was analysed in a southern Mediterranean shallow system throughout 1 year. We examined the temporal variation in R. cirrhosa cover percentage, shoot density, biomass, leaf length, no. flowers m-2 and no. fruits m-2 in two groups of pond characterized by differences in some environmental parameters. Ponds were comparable for salinity and temperature but they differed for other environmental parameters such as water depth, level of suspended organic matter and chlorophyll a (CHL a). Biological parameter values were higher in B ponds, characterized by lower values of water depth, suspended organic matter and CHL a. A seasonal trend for all considered biological parameters in both typologies of ponds with maximum values in summer was also observed. Moreover, differences were observed between the two groups of ponds in relation to the reproductive strategy adopted by the plant, with populations subjected to a higher organic input and a lower water depth displaying an annual cycle. Results showed how R. cirrhosa is able to resist and to adapt to variations in environmental conditions because of the plasticity and flexibility in the growth cycle and in the reproductive effort.