Algae. 2011; 26(3): 243-251.
Variation in morphological traits over a wave-exposure gradient in one but not in another species of the brown alga Carpophyllum (Fucales)
Fiona Hodge1, Joseph Buchanan1 and Giuseppe C. Zuccarello1,*
1School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, P. O. Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
Environmental conditions can influence the morphology of local biota through phenotypic plasticity or local adaptation. Macroalgal morphologies are often associated with wave-exposure conditions. We investigated the relationship between morphology and wave exposure in two common endemic subtidal macroalgae, Carpophyllum angustifolium and C. maschalocarpum, from the East Cape of New Zealand. Morphological comparisons were made between individuals from two sites and four different wave-exposure zones, as defined by fetch and barnacle composition. Of the seven morphological traits measured in C. angustifolium, only total length varied, and individuals were longer in more wave-exposed environments between the two exposure zones where the species were found. In contrast, total length, stipe thickness and vesicle presence all varied significantly between exposure zones in C. maschalocarpum. C. maschalocarpum specimens were shorter with thinner stipes, and fewer individuals had vesicles in the more wave-exposed zones. Morphological traits of both species also varied between sites, suggesting that other influences are important for determining species morphology. Further study is needed to investigate the role of phenotypic plasticity and genetic variability for driving morphological variation in C. angustifolium and C. maschalocarpum.
Carpophyllum angustifolium; Carpophyllum maschalocarpum; Fucales; morphology; Phaeophyceae; phenotypic