A theoretical examination of environmental effects on the life cycle schedule and range limits of the invasive seaweed undaria pinnatifida
Murphy, James T.
Johnson, Mark P.
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Murphy, James T. Johnson, Mark P.; Viard, Frédérique (2017). A theoretical examination of environmental effects on the life cycle schedule and range limits of the invasive seaweed undaria pinnatifida. Biological Invasions 19 (2), 691-702
Invasive macroalgae form a substantial component of marine invaders at a global level. However, it is poorly understood how the complex interactions between local environmental conditions and life cycle dynamics contribute to invasion success from a mechanistic viewpoint. The aim of this study was to use a model (UndariaGEN) that incorporates a detailed representation of the individual heteromorphic life history stages (sporophytes and gametophytes) of the species in order to explore how interactions between these components contribute to the overall population dynamics. The latest version of the model was validated against field data from a real-life population in Brittany, France. This was followed by an assessment of the role of temperature limitations in determining its potential global range and then a more detailed examination of how environmental factors affect the life cycle dynamics of U. pinnatifida across a range of conditions characteristic of European populations. In terms of both relative abundance and recruitment, the model matches closely the patterns observed from field studies in Brittany, France (R-2 = 0.98 respectively). Furthermore, the model predicted theoretical temperature limits for growth (9.1-22.5 A degrees C) match closely the actual current global range limits for the species (9.5-22.4 A degrees C) reported in the literature. In addition, the size of the species' ecological niche is shown to be directly related to the amplitude in seasonal variation of temperature. This demonstrates that U. pinnatifida has a wider ecological niche in conditions of high seasonality; this finding is consistent with theories that propose the heteromorphic life cycle may have evolved as an optimal growth strategy for highly seasonal environments.