MEPS - Vol. 348 - Feature article

Eutrophication of shallow coastal bays typically causes a shift in dominance from seagrasses and perennial macroalgae to ephemeral, bloom-forming algae. Photo: Peter Bondo Christensen

McGlathery KJ, Sundbäck K, Anderson IC

 

Eutrophication in shallow coastal bays and lagoons: the role of plants in the coastal filter

 

Pollution by nutrients represents one of the greatest threats to the ecological integrity of coastal ecosystems worldwide, and it is projected to increase in coming decades. The implications of this trend to society are significant, as coastal bays and estuaries provide critical ecosystem services, including fish and shellfish production, and recreation for humans. McGlathery and colleagues discuss why different conceptual models of eutrophication are needed for shallow coastal bays, as opposed to river-fed estuaries. The authors highlight a critical biotic feedback that influences eutrophication patterns in shallow systems: the important role of primary producers in the 'coastal filter', and how they influence the fate and retention of watershed nutrients on their trajectory to the open ocean.

 

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