, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 229–245 | Cite as

Nutrient content of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum reveals regional patterns of relative availability of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Florida Keys USA

  • James W. Fourqurean
  • Joseph C. Zieman


Between 1992 and 2000, we sampled 504 randomly chosen locations in theFlorida Keys, Florida, USA, for the elemental content of green leaves of theseagrass Thalassia testudinum. Carbon content ranged from29.4–43.3% (dry weight), nitrogen content from 0.88–3.96%, andphosphorus content from 0.048–0.243%. N and P content of the samples werenot correlated, suggesting that the relative availability of N and P variedacross the sampling region. Spatial pattern in C:N indicated a decrease in Navailability from inshore waters to the reef tract 10 km offshore;in contrast, the pattern in C:P indicated an increase in P availability frominshore waters to the reef tract. The spatial pattern in N:P was used to definea P-limited region of seagrass beds in Florida Bay and near shore, and anN-limited region of seagrass beds offshore. The close juxtaposition ofN–and P-limited regions allows the possibility that N loading from thesuburban Florida Keys could influence the offshore, N-limited seagrass bedswithout impacting the more nearshore, P-limited seagrass beds.

Carbonate Nutrient limitation Seagrass Spatial pattern Stoichiometry 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • James W. Fourqurean
    • 1
  • Joseph C. Zieman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences and Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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