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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 593:47-59 (2018)  -  DOI:

Dispersal of seagrass propagules: interaction between hydrodynamics and substratum type

L. Pereda-Briones1,*, E. Infantes2, A. Orfila1, F. Tomas1,3, J. Terrados

1Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados, IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Miquel Marques 21, 07190 Esporles, Illes Balears, Spain
2Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Kristineberg, Fiskebäckskil, 45178, Sweden
3Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, 104 Nash Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Waves and currents influence not only the spatial distribution of seagrass meadows but also the transport, establishment and survivorship of seagrass propagules and hence the success of seagrass recruitment from sexual reproduction. We quantified the dispersal of propagules of 3 seagrass species (Posidonia oceanica, Cymodocea nodosa and Zostera marina) over substrata of different complexities (sand, coarse gravel and P. oceanica mattes of different shoot abundances) under unidirectional flow in a hydraulic flume. Threshold velocities indicate that Z. marina seeds start to move earlier over a flat sandy bottom (14 cm s-1) than seeds of P. oceanica (20 cm s-1) and C. nodosa (21 cm s-1). Propagule trapping increased with bottom complexity, which was related to the flow reduction that each substratum generated and the boundary layer thickness. Trapping rates were higher in coarse gravel and in mattes with higher abundances of dead shoots, where flow was reduced more than 50%. Over sand, flow reduction was minimal and propagules were not trapped. Furthermore, notable differences between P. oceanica early life stages were observed, with seeds trapped first, followed by seedlings of increasing ages. This result may be related to the smaller frontal area (area exposed to water flow) and higher settling velocity of the younger life stages. Together, our results provide important insights into the drivers of seagrass recruitment, which are of interest for restoration purposes and numerical modelling.

KEY WORDS: Establishment · Seed transport · Recruitment · Drag coefficient · Morphology · Seedling · Posidonia oceanica · Cymodocea nodosa · Zostera marina

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Cite this article as: Pereda-Briones L, Infantes E, Orfila A, Tomas F, Terrados J (2018) Dispersal of seagrass propagules: interaction between hydrodynamics and substratum type. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 593:47-59.

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