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The capacity of seagrasses to survive increased turbidity and siltation: The significance of growth form and light use

Vermaat, J.E. and Agawin, N.S.R. and Fortes D., M. and Uri, J. and Duarte, C.M. and Marba, N. and Enriquez, S. and Van Vierssen, W. (1997) The capacity of seagrasses to survive increased turbidity and siltation: The significance of growth form and light use. Ambio, 26, 499-504. ISSN 0044-7447 .

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Official URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4314656

Abstract

Seagrasses are submerged or intertidal angiosperms that form extensive meadows in shallow coastal waters. Tropical as well as temperate seagrass beds are subject to man's interference. Most human activities affect seagrasses either through reductions in light availability or changes in sediment dynamics, the latter often caused by hydrodynamic changes. This paper offers practical ranges within which seagrasses can be expected to occur for these two main environmental factors: light availability and sediment deposition. With a few exceptions, comparatively little variation was found among species in light requirements for photosynthesis. Predicted compensation depths calculated from photosynthesis data correlated well with independently estimated maximum colonization depths. In contrast, considerable differences exist in architectural characteristics. Large shoot size or the capacity to elongate vertical stems enabled several species to raise their leaf canopy closer to the water surface and thus suffer less in turbid water. The latter also allows a response to siltation: sedimentation rates of 2-13 cm yr(-1) can probably be coped with, depending on the species. Observed horizontal rhizome elongation rates differed considerably among species: colonizing seagrasses expand horizontally at rates between 1 and 10 m yr(-1). The higher horizontal growth rates are probably sufficient to track the migration of sand waves and, thus, horizontally escape sedimentation. [KEYWORDS: Dutch wadden sea; zostera-marina l; cymodocea-nodosa; eelgrass; patterns; biomass; productivity; communities; beds; variability]

Item Type:Article
ID Code:10570
Deposited On:25 Nov 2011 01:00
Last Modified:24 Apr 2012 16:38

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