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Reproductive Strategies of Ceramium tenuicorne Near Its Inner Limit in the Brackish Baltic Sea
The reproductive state of Ceramium tenuicorne (Kütz.) WӦrn was studied in a salinity and latitudinal gradient near its inner distribution limit in the brackish Baltic Sea, and in laboratory growth experiments on the gametophytes and tetrasporophytes. Along the gradient, a strong reduction in sexual reproduction and an increased tetrasporophyte dominance were observed. The observed changes may not only be explained by salinity constraints. Growth occurred between 1 and 24 PSU and the optimum range for growth corresponded well to the salinity regime of the area studied. Field observations showed that sexual reproduction is at least occasionally possible in salinities around 4 PSU. It is likely that severed climatic conditions constrain sexual reproduction towards the north, but C. tenuicorne remains an ecologically dominant species in large parts of its distributional area. Viable populations are maintained essentially by vegetative reproduction, such as fragmentation and rhizoidal re-attachment. Observations on vegetative propagules were sparse, but these may serve as an important physical escape from temporarily unfavourable conditions in areas where sexual reproduction is unreliable.
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