Data from: Form–function relationships in a marine foundation species depend on scale: a shoot to global perspective from a distributed ecological experiment
Ruesink, Jennifer L. et al. (2017), Data from: Form–function relationships in a marine foundation species depend on scale: a shoot to global perspective from a distributed ecological experiment, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.s2b68
Form-function relationships in plants underlie their ecosystem roles in supporting higher trophic levels through primary production, detrital pathways, and habitat provision. For widespread, phenotypically-variable plants, productivity may differ not only across abiotic conditions, but also from distinct morphological or demographic traits. A single foundation species, eelgrass (Zostera marina), typically dominates north temperate seagrass meadows, which we studied across 14 sites spanning 32-61° N latitude and two ocean basins. Body size varied by nearly two orders of magnitude through this range, and was largest at mid-latitudes and in the Pacific Ocean. At the global scale, neither latitude, site-level environmental conditions, nor body size helped predict productivity (relative growth rate 1-2% d-1 at most sites), suggesting a remarkable capacity of Z. marina to achieve similar productivity in summer. Furthermore, among a suite of stressors applied within sites, only ambient leaf damage reduced productivity; grazer reduction and nutrient addition had no effect on eelgrass size or growth. Scale-dependence was evident in different allometric relationships within and across sites for productivity and for modules (leaf count) relative to size. Z. marina provides a range of ecosystem functions related to both body size (habitat provision, water flow) and growth rates (food, carbon dynamics). Our observed decoupling of body size and maximum production suggests that geographic variation in these ecosystem functions may be independent, with a future need to resolve how local adaptation or plasticity of body size might actually enable more consistent peak productivity across disparate environmental conditions.
National Science Foundation, Award: OCE-1031061