Development of epiphytic communities on eelgrass (Zostera marina) along a nutrient gradient in a Danish estuary
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The effect of nutrient enrichment on epiphyte development was examined by following the seasonal development of epiphyte biomass on eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) at four localities along a nutrient gradient in Roskilde Fjord, Denmark between March and December 1982. In the most nutrient-poor area, epiphyte biomass followed a distinct bimodal seasonal pattern with maxima in spring and early fall. Low nutrient availability and a high rate of eelgrass leaf renewal kept epiphyte biomass at a low level throughout the summer period. Unlike phytoplankton, the epiphytic community was not stimulated by nutrient enrichment during spring, however, from May through August, the biomass of both components increased exponentially with increasing concentrations of total N in the water. Along the nutrient gradient, phytoplankton biomass increased 5- to 10-fold, while epiphyte biomass increased 50- to 100-fold. Thus differences in nutrient conditions among study sites were more clearly reflected by epiphytes than phytoplankton.
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