The Intertidal Zone

The intertidal habitat is mechanically very demanding [1]. High flow rates (greater than 25 m s-1) and accelerations (greater than 500 m s-2) require special mechanical adaptations by intertidal organisms [2-8]. In general, it is advantageous to minimize the overall size to avoid excessive wave-induced forces [9]. Intertidal seaweeds, however, deviate from this pattern. Based on common presumptions of how forces scale with size, this group seems to be oversized [9].

Seaweeds can adapt their mechanical properties in response to ambient wave climates [2,4,7]. Possibly even more important, seaweeds are very flexible and can change their overall shape [3,5,6,8]. By streamlining, seaweeds are able to reduce the magnitude of acting forces that can potentially be generated at high velocities [10-12]. The overall goal of this study was to quantify the process of streamlining and reconfiguration and to assess the importance of the positively buoyant lamina in the large intertidal seaweed Durvillaea.

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