Thomsen, Esther, Herbeck, Lucia, Viana, Inés G. and Jennerjahn, Tim ORCID: (2023) Meadow trophic status regulates the nitrogen filter function of tropical seagrasses in seasonally eutrophic coastal waters. Limnology and Oceanography, 68 (8). pp. 1906-1919. DOI

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The nutrient filter function is an important ecosystem service of seagrass meadows that mitigates the consequences of coastal eutrophication. In northeast Hainan in China, large seagrass areas were lost due to chronic eutrophication induced by untreated pond aquaculture effluents. However, in adjacent areas, seagrasses could survive due to seasonal exposure (i.e., not chronic) to eutrophication only. In a way, the conditions in these areas represent a transitional environment which allows investigating the effect of eutrophication on seagrass performance and their nitrogen uptake capacity. We tested how a 4-week in situ nutrient enrichment affected inorganic nitrogen uptake rates of a multispecies seagrass meadow in eutrophic and non-eutrophic seasons, in light and in darkness. All species maintained nitrogen uptake in the dark and preferred ammonium over nitrate. In the eutrophic season, the seagrass leaf biomass and growth were lower resulting in a lower nitrogen filter capacity. Among the species present, Cymodocea rotundata and Cymodocea serrulata covered 48% and 45%, respectively, of their daily nitrogen demand for leaf growth through leaf uptake from the water column, while it was only 30% for Thalassia hemprichii, the last remaining species in meadows degraded by eutrophication, as deduced from previous studies. It indicates that a multispecies seagrass meadow has a higher nitrogen filter capacity than a monospecific T. hemprichii meadow. By reducing seagrass diversity and, hence, the nitrogen filter function, eutrophication triggers a self-reinforcing process. Once the nitrogen filtering capacity of a seagrass meadow is exhausted, further eutrophication and seagrass loss are expected.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: PA3
Research affiliation: Biogeochemistry and Geology > Ecological Biogeochemistry
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
ISSN: 0024-3590
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2023 16:03
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2023 16:10

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