Carbon, nitrogen, δ13C, δ15N, amino acid composition and D/L-amino acid ratios were measured during the early stages of decomposition of seagrass and mangrove leaves in two south florida estuaries. Isotopic compositions for plants and
associated consumers were consistent within an estuary. During decomposition seagrasses showed little change in δ13C, δ15N, but showed an increase in the D/L ratio of certain of the amino acids. Mangroves show little δ13C
change but marked reduction in δ15N and an increase in the D/L ratio of the amino acids. The percentage of total N accounted for by amino acids decreased in the seagrasses over the term of the experiment, but increased for the mangroves. These data suggest a different
mode of decomposition for mangroves and seagrasses when decaying under similar conditions. The δ13C of consumers is closely coupled to the dominant carbon source in each estuary.
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