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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 194:13-21 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps194013

Nutrient mass balance of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica: the importance of nutrient retranslocation

Teresa Alcoverro*, Marta Manzanera, Javier Romero

Departament d¹Ecologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Avgda. Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
*Present address: Centre d¹Estudis Avançats de Blanes, CSIC, Camí de Santa Bàrbara s/n, 17300 Blanes, Girona, Spain. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: The seasonal nutrient mass balance of the dominant seagrass of the Mediterranean, Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, was evaluated in NE Spain in order to test the hypothesis that the effect of seasonal nutrient imbalance can be reduced by the reutilization of internal nutrient pools. To this end we investigated the seasonal and age-dependent variability of nitrogen and phosphorus concentration of the leaves, inferring from these data values of seasonal nitrogen and phosphorus incorporation, uptake, losses and retranslocation. Incorporation of nitrogen and phosphorus in leaves peaked in June and was lowest in September, thus following the seasonal growth pattern of the plant. Retranslocation of nitrogen and phosphorus was high from May to September and close to zero during the rest of the year. Losses of nitrogen and phosphorus were highest at the end of summer, associated with the major biomass losses. Nitrogen uptake by leaves reached maximum values in winter and was lowest during August-September, while phosphorus uptake was highest in spring and lowest in August-September. On an annual basis nitrogen and phosphorus uptake accounted for 60 and 41% of the total nutrient incorporation, respectively, while retranslocation of nutrients from old tissues accounted for the remaining 40 and 59%. Although roots and rhizomes function as sources of nutrients at the beginning of the summer, their contribution to the seasonal nutrient budget seemed to be minor.

KEY WORDS: Mediterranean Sea · Phosphorus · Nitrogen · Uptake · Incorporation

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