AB 15:1-9 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00413

FEATURE ARTICLE
Nitrogen-rich groundwater intrusion affects productivity, but not herbivory, of the tropical seagrass Thalassia testudinum

Bradley J. Peterson*, Amber D. Stubler, Charles C. Wall, Christopher J. Gobler

School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, 239 Montauk Hwy, Southampton, New York 11968, USA

ABSTRACT: Discovery Bay, Jamaica, is a coastal lagoon with areas of substantial submarine groundwater discharge that supply terrestrially derived nutrients to the marine ecosystem. The present study demonstrates that groundwater nitrogen delivery through the sediments allows benthic primary producers to utilize this resource. Meadows of Thalassia testudinum located within the discharge zone of the groundwater seepage had significantly more aboveground biomass, higher rates of productivity and leaves enriched in nitrogen. However, there were no observable positive impacts of nitrogen enrichment on epiphytic algal biomass within these areas. While recent studies have shown that herbivores preferentially graze seagrass blades with elevated tissue nitrogen levels, reciprocal transplant experiments revealed that herbivores avoided the nitrogen-enriched leaves and preferentially consumed leaves that were stoichiometrically enriched in phosphorus when transplanted within groundwater areas. This finding suggests that herbivore grazing was influenced more by the ecological stoichiometry of these plants than by the absolute nitrogen content in this phosphorus-limited tropical marine system.


KEY WORDS: Submarine groundwater · Thalassia testudinum · Seagrass · Herbivory · Nitrogen tissue content


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Cite this article as: Peterson BJ, Stubler AD, Wall CC, Gobler CJ (2012) Nitrogen-rich groundwater intrusion affects productivity, but not herbivory, of the tropical seagrass Thalassia testudinum. Aquat Biol 15:1-9. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00413

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