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Spatial and temporal variation in reproductive timing, and juvenile growth, of the kelp Ecklonia radiata
This project will incorporate studies of the various stages of the life cycle of Ecklonia radiata, and how it is influenced by environmental conditions. The reproductive timing and fertility of Ecklonia radiata will be examined over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Temporally; plants will be examined weekly, monthly, bi-monthly and annually. Spatially; spore concentrations will be measured over distances ranging from tens to thousands of kilometres. The haploid stage of the kelp life cycles will be studied by culturing gametophytes in a range of different conditions such as light and temperature. These experiments, as well as others, will allow inferences to be drawn about the effects of changed environmental conditions, such as those resulting from global climate change and anthropogenic pressures, on the growth and survival of kelp populations.
In temperate Australia the dominant habitat-forming species on shallow subtidal reefs is the kelp Ecklonia radiata, which supports highly diverse, productive communities with extensive food webs including many commercially important species. Despite the critical role of E. radiata to the ecological function of temperate reef communities in Australasia, surprisingly little is known about its reproductive ecology and in particular how this is affected by environmental conditions This project will directly address this knowledge gap by investigating the effects of environmental conditions on zoospore production, release and dispersal, as well as growth of gametophytes.