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Keywords:

  • Alaria;
  • climate change;
  • Fucus ;
  • temperature;
  • ultraviolet radiation

The global environment is changing. Substantial shifts in temperature, rainfall, cloud cover, and UV radiation (UVR) are all predicted as a result of anthropogenic activity. Although the actual and potential effects of changes in single environmental variables are being studied intensively, the interactive effects of multiple stressors have received little attention. Here we offer the first experimental evidence of interactive effects between UVR and temperature on germination and growth in multicellular organisms. To address the question of how temperature affects survival and growth of organisms in the presence of UVR, we exposed early life stages of two species of intertidal algae, Alaria marginata Postels et Ruprecht and Fucus gardneri Silva, to four levels of UVR at three temperatures for 56 h. PAR and day length (12:12-h light:dark) were held constant across all treatments. UVR levels bracketed natural levels, and temperatures were within the range of ambient temperatures. Designated endpoints were germination rate and cell number, and we recorded mortality where survival was nil. Our results support the hypothesis that temperature mediates the net biological effect of UVR and vice versa. For instance, spores of A. marginata were able to survive and grow at 15° C at all UV levels and at 10° C in the absence of UVR but were unable to survive at 10° C in the presence of high levels of UVR. Our results suggest that the ability to predict the effects of global change hinges on understanding interactions among environmental variables, imposing strict limits on inferences made from single-factor experiments.