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Reference growth charts for assessing growth performance of Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile

  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2016
  • Tipologia: Abstract in atti di convegno pubblicato in volume
  • OA Link:


Posidonia oceanica is considered a key species due to its different roles as primary producer, substrate for many species, shoreline erosion protector and long-term carbon store (1).The importance of P. oceanicahas stimulated several studies aimed at quantifying its status. In particular growth performance of rhizomes has become among the most used descriptors for monitoring changes of P. oceanicameadows induced by human or naturalexogenous factors (2). However, ability to detect any change of growth in space or in time is often confounded by natural age-induced variations, which involves serious interpretation problems (3). A general approach adopted to overcome this problem is to build growth charts as reference tool for comparison purposes. Charts describing patterns of biometric features conditioned to age are increasingly used as comparison tools, even if almost exclusively in Auxology(4). Their use can be extended to other disciplines, including ecological studies, although very large data sets are required for obtaining reliable estimates and curves should be flexible enough to account for non-linear growth pattern over age (5). In this work reference growth charts involving different P. oceanicagrowth performance measures (speed of growth and primary production of rhizomes) will be presented. Curves have been built using proper statistical frameworks (GLMM, Segmented and Quantile Regressions), based on more than 13000 annualgrowth data recorded by lepidochronology (6) on about 1600 shoots collected at 4–32 m depth range along Sicilian coasts.Growth patterns exhibited distinct trends as regards the relationships with depth: neither speed of growth nor primary production of rhizomes depended on depth until 14 m, while at deeper stands significant linear decrease by 3.5–2.0% for 1 m increase in depth was observed, due to light and sedimentation reduction. The considerable size of the dataset allowed to estimate the accurate shapes of the percentile curves (from 5thto 95th), revealing non monotonic relationships of growth with respect to shoot age with an initial increase followed by an overall decrease of 40% during the following years of the explored lifespan. The accompanying model-based classification procedures presented, will allow to obtain comparable results also when age of shoots is largely different (up to 20 years) (7). The growth charts may represent a noteworthy tool for researchers involved in studying of different aspects of seagrass monitoring. It is hoped that the proposed framework will facilitate assessment of growth performance status and comparative analysis of growth data from different populations around the Mediterranean Sea