, Volume 143, Issue 6, pp 1229-1238
Date: 17 Jul 2003

Short- and long-term effects of eutrophication on the secondary production of an intertidal macrobenthic community

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Secondary production of a macrobenthic community at an intertidal mudflat was estimated for 33 successive months. Sampling was carried out along a eutrophication gradient, including non-eutrophied Zostera meadows, an intermediate muddy area, and a strongly eutrophied sand-muddy flat, where macroalgal blooms of Enteromorpha spp. usually occur. The Zostera meadows were always the most productive habitat (145–225 g ash-free dry weight m−2 year−1). In the short term, the macroalgal bloom benefited the total estuarine production by enhancing the annual production in the eutrophied area. Nevertheless, our results show that this increase was short lived and in no way sufficient to match the production in the Zostera meadows. In the long term, the present study provides evidence that the disappearance of macrophyte beds, as a result of ongoing eutrophication, constitutes a major threat to the sustainability of the estuarine ecosystem.