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Free Content Production and Decomposition of the Roots and Rhizomes of Seagrasses, Zostera Marina and Thalassia Testudinum, in Temperate and Subtropical Marine Ecosystems

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Seagrasses, Zostera marina in temperate regions and Thalassia testudinum in subtropical and tropical areas, form the basis of highly productive subtidal wetlands. We present our research results and a review of the literature concerning production, biomass and decomposition of roots and rhizomes of these seagrass species. Zostera rhizomes and roots are a substantial source of organic matter to estuarine sediments. During early stages of decay the roots and rhizomes leach soluble organic matter that is readily utilized by bacteria. The remaining particulate fraction decomposes slowly and has a larger pool of refractory material than the leaves. Thus, the particulate fraction of Zostera roots and rhizomes provides a large and relatively enduring source of organic detritus, which is available even during periodic fluctuations in above-ground production by this seagrass and other autotrophs. Under ambient conditions Thalassia rhizome decay was significantly slower than that for Zostera, while root decay rates were similar. The turnover rates for these two seagrasses suggest differences in the potential sources and availability of nutrients in sediments of temperate and tropical seagrass meadows. The contribution of seagrass root and rhizome detritus to the energetics and nutrient cycles of benthic ecosystems is discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1984-11-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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