USING AN INDIVIDUAL BASED MODEL TO EVALUATE THE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON THE REPRODUCTIVE PHENOLOGY OF EELGRASS (ZOSTERA MARINA L.) ALONG A LATITUDINAL GRADIENT
Foley, Jessica Lynn
Harris, Lora A
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I explored the effects of climate change on the reproductive biology of the clonal marine angiosperm Zostera marina L. (eelgrass) using an individual-based model. The model captures whole plant ontogeny, morphology, and ecophysiology from seed to reproductive adult to simulate the plasticity of eelgrass in response to environmental variables. Using a latitudinal gradient as a proxy for climate change, virtual seeding experiments were performed in three locations along the East coast of the United States. I simulated the impacts of increased temperatures on Z. marina’s biomass, reproductive phenology, and life history. Warmer temperatures resulted in a modeled decrease of Z. marina’s total biomass, as well as altered reproductive timing and strategy. These results have implications for long term predictions of Z. marina persistence in its traditional biogeographic range, and indicate adaptation via shifts in phenology and reproductive strategy may interact to dampen some negative consequences of increased temperatures.