Both relative concentrations and absolute content of major nutritional components of detritus pools derived from seaweed and marshgrass were followed during decomposition in laboratory microcosms. Detritus derived from seaweed quickly decomposed, with rate of loss of energy and nitrogen
content and food value to Capitella capitata closely following each other. Detritus derived from marshgrass decayed slower. Energy and nitrogen changes were uncoupled. For many months, there was a slow decline in the total caloric content but no change in the low available caloric content/low
nitrogen content with time. Food value to C. capitata was poor and unchanged. Only after a long period of “aging” did increases in nitrogen content, incorporated from the aquatic medium, and increases in available energy, as a result of decomposition of structural polymers,
result in increased nutritive value to C. capitata.
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