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Light dependence of Zostera marina annual growth dynamics in estuaries subject to different degrees of eutrophication
Hauxwell, J.; Cebrian, J.; Valiela, I. (2006). Light dependence of Zostera marina annual growth dynamics in estuaries subject to different degrees of eutrophication. Aquat. Bot. 84(1): 17-25. dx.doi.org/1016/j.aquabot.2005.05.014
In: Aquatic Botany. Elsevier Science: Tokyo; Oxford; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0304-3770, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Eutrophication; Growth; Irradiance; Zostera (Zostera) marina Linnaeus, 1753 [WoRMS]; ANW, USA, Massachusetts, Waquoit Bay [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Hauxwell, J.
  • Cebrian, J.
  • Valiela, I.

Abstract
    We examined the coupling between eelgrass growth dynamics and surface irradiance over an annual cycle in four shallow estuaries of the Waquoit Bay system (MA, USA) that have similar physical characteristics, but are subject to different land-derived nitrogen loading rates and eutrophication. Contrary to our hypothesis, the results show that most measures of eelgrass demographics were positively correlated with surface irradiance in all four estuaries. Of the 45 regression models adjusted between irradiance and demographic variables (density, plastochrone intervals, and above- or belowground biomass, growth, and production, on both a per shoot and areal basis), only nine were non-significant, and only six of those corresponded to the eutrophic estuaries. There was a lack of correlation between shoot density and irradiance in the eutrophic estuaries, in contrast to the strong coupling in estuaries with the lowest nitrogen loads. Severe light limitation and other deleterious impacts imposed by macroalgal canopies on newly recruiting shoots in the eutrophic estuaries likely contributed to the lack of correlation between shoot density and irradiance at the water's surface. Because the range in eutrophication included the range of conditions at which eelgrass can survive, the relatively consistent temporal coupling between surface irradiance and most eelgrass demographic variables found here may also be a feature of other shallow temperate systems undergoing eutrophication, and indicates a measure of plant recruitment (density) to be one of the first parameters to become uncoupled from light reaching the water's surface.

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