, Volume 176, Issue 1, pp 189–196 | Cite as

Heavy metals in eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) during growth and decomposition

  • Jens Erik Lyngby
  • Hans Brix
Contaminant accumulation, distributions, geochemistry and mineralogy


The distributions of cadmium, chromium, lead, and zinc in eelgrass were studied in samples collected from the field, and the loss/accumulation of the metals during decomposition of eelgrass leaves was studied in laboratory experiments.

Concentrations of heavy metals in the below grounds parts were greater in the roots than in the different age groups of the rhizomes. In the rhizomes, the highest concentrations of lead were recorded in the oldest parts, whereas highest chromium and zinc concentrations were found in the youngest parts. The concentration of cadmium did not vary. In the above ground parts, the concentrations of cadmium, lead, and zinc increased with age of the leaves, and concentrations in the leaves were greater than in the stem fraction. The concentrations of chromium decreased with age of the leaves.

In the laboratory study of decomposition of leaf material, the concentrations of chromium, lead and zinc increased significantly and a net absorption from the surrounding water was recorded. Cadmium concentrations were relatively constant and a loss of cadmium was proportional to the release of soluble organic compounds indicating an association of cadmium with the soluble phase.

The investigation demonstrated the utility of compositional analyses and decomposition experiments in assessing the significance of eelgrass in the heavy metal cycling in coastal areas. Furthermore, significant differences in the fate of heavy metals associated with eelgrass detritus are discussed.

Key words

heavy metals seagrasses decomposition distribution 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jens Erik Lyngby
    • 1
  • Hans Brix
    • 2
  1. 1.Water Quality InstituteHørsholmDenmark
  2. 2.Botanical Institute, University of ÅrhusRisskovDenmark

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