Production ecology of eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) in a cape cod salt marsh-estuarine system, Massachusetts

Charles T. Roman, Kenneth W. Able

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

Primary production and biomass loss of Zostera marina L. were estimated at two sites within the Nauset Marsh system, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Maximum live leaf-blade biomass at the Nauset Harbor (305 g dry weight (DW) m-2) and Town Cove (199 g DW m-2) sites peaked in mid-August. Maximum leaf-blade productivities, estimated by a leaf-marking technique, were 10.8 g DW m-2 day-1 and 5.5 g DW m-2 day-1, respectively. Leaf-blade production occurred throughout winter, but at much reduced rates (<0.2 g DW m-2 day-1, both sites). Net annual aboveground (leaf blades, reproductive shoots, sheaths) primary production was estimated at 987 g DW m-2 year-1 and 444 g DW m-2 year-1, respectively. Peak rates of leaf-blade biomass loss occurred in early September (Nauset Harbor, 8.5 g DW m-2 day-1; Town Cove, 4.7 g DW m-2 day-1), corresponding to a period of high eelgrass-wrack accumulation on New England shorelines. Annual leaf-blade biomass loss was 577 g DW m-2 year-1 and 303 g DW m-2 year-1, respectively. These loss rates, coupled with leaf-crop turnover rates of 6 crops year-1, stress the role of eelgrass meadows in the support of estuarine detritus-based food webs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-363
Number of pages11
JournalAquatic Botany
Volume32
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1988

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science

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