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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 184:63-72 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps184063

Water flow in tide- and wave-dominated beds of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum

Evamaria W. Koch1,*, Giselher Gust2

1Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, PO Box 775, Cambridge, Maryland 21613, USA
2Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg, Lauenbruch-Ost 1, D-21079 Hamburg, Germany

ABSTRACT: Biological processes in seagrass meadows are regulated by the exchange of momentum, heat and mass between the surrounding water and the plants and thus may strongly depend on the characteristics of water flow and turbulence. Comparisons of mean flow profiles, turbulence distribution and mixing in meadows of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum colonizing 2 hydrodynamically different sites (wave-dominated and tide-dominated) suggest that the hydrodynamic microclimate and consequently mixing within seagrass beds strongly depend on the hydrodynamic forces (waves and currents) acting on the plants. Unidirectional flows deflect the water over the meadow (skimming flows), which potentially leads to lower mixing between the water above and within the meadow. In contrast, waves cause the blades to move back and forth, increasing the exchange between the water column and that within the meadow. Therefore, the hydrodynamic conditions prevailing in the seagrass habitat (waves, tides) change the pattern of flow attenuation and mixing within the vegetation.

KEY WORDS: Hydrodynamics · Thalassia testudinum · Currents · Turbulence · Tides · Waves · Plant density · Mixing

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