Publication Details

This article was originally published as Robinson, SA, Turnbull, JD Lovelock, CE, Impact of changes in natural UV radiation on pigment composition, surface reflectance and photosynthetic function of the Antarctic moss, Grimmia antarctici, Global Change Biology, 11 (3), 2005, 476-489. Original journal available here. Copyright Blackwell.


The impact of ambient UV-B radiation on the endemic bryophyte, Grimmia antarctici, was studied over 14 months in East Antarctica. Over recent decades, Antarctic plants have been exposed to the largest relative increase in UV-B exposure as a result of ozone depletion. We investigated the effect of reduced UV and visible radiation on the pigment concentrations, surface reflectance and physiological and morphological parameters of this moss. Plexiglass screens were used to provide both reduced UV levels (77%) and a 50% decrease in total radiation. The screen combinations were used to separate UV photoprotective from visible photoprotective strategies, since these bryophytes are growing in relatively high light environments compared to many mosses. G. antarctici was affected negatively by ambient levels of UV radiation. Chlorophyll content was significantly lower in plants grown under near ambient UV, whilst the relative proportions of photoprotective carotenoids, especially ß-carotene and zeaxanthin, increased. However, no evidence for the accumulation of UV-B absorbing pigments in response to UV radiation was observed. Although photosynthetic rates were not affected, there was evidence of UV effects on morphology. Plants that were shaded showed fewer treatment responses and these were similar to the natural variation observed between moss growing on exposed microtopographical ridges and in more sheltered valleys within the turf. Given that other Antarctic bryophytes possess UV-B absorbing pigments which should offer better protection under ambient UV-B radiation, these findings suggest that G. antarctici may be disadvantaged in some settings under a climate with continuing high levels of springtime UV-B radiation.



Link to publisher version (DOI)