Reproductive morphology and phenological aspects of one morphological variant of Hypnea pseudomusciformis (Gigartinales, Rhodophyta)
ABSTRACT Hypnea pseudomusciformis was recently described from South America, and has three morphological variants: “musciformis”, “nigrescens”, and “valentiae”. Information on the biology of these variants may help to explain this species’ wide morphological variation despite the absence of genetic divergence among variants. More morphological and ecological data has accumulated on the “musciformis” variant occurring on the Brazilian coast than for the others. In this study, we described the reproductive morphology of a tropical “nigrescens” population and investigated its phenology to provide crucial biological information about this taxon, and perhaps also assist in answering questions about the systematics of H. pseudomusciformis variants. The population analyzed showed no significant fluctuations in its total biomass throughout the year. All reproductive stages were frequently recorded during this study, which contributes greatly to our knowledge of the reproductive morphology of the “nigrescens” variant. Phenological variations were correlated with environment variables, such as air and sea-surface temperatures, insolation, precipitation, and humidity. Male gametophytes were frequently present, which has never been reported for the “musciformis” variant. We showed that, despite being members of the same genetic species, the “nigrescens” and “musciformis” morphological variants exhibit remarkable differences in their ecology and biology.