, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 1041–1056 | Cite as

Responses of coastal lagoon plant communities to levels of nutrient enrichment: A mesocosm study

  • D. I. TaylorEmail author
  • S. W. Nixon
  • S. L. Granger
  • B. A. Buckley


An experiment was conducted to quantify the effects of different levels of nutrient enrichment on the plant communities of temperate coastal lagoons, specifically the lagoons of the northeast U.S. Ten mesocosms, each containing coastal water, lagoon sediments, and plants and animals found in natural lagoons, were subjected to five levels of enrichment. Two mesocosms served as controls, and received no experimental nutrient additions. The remaining 8 mesocosms were enriched in duplicate with ammonium plus phosphate at 1.0 and 0.11 mmol N or P m−2 d−1, 2.0 and 0.19 mmol N or P m−2 d−1, 4.0 and 0.35 mmol N or P m−2 d−1, and 8.0 and 0.67 N or P mmol m−2 d−1. At all levels of enrichment, and through much of the experiment, water column concentrations of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) were drawn down to background levels. Despite the efficient drawdown of added DIN even at the highest loadings, differences in plant biomass among the 5 treatments were difficult to detect. Enrichment at the highest loadings increased standing stocks of phytoplankton for one month mid-experiment. No significant effect of loading could be detected for dry biomass of eelgrass (Zostera marina), epiphytic material, drift macroalgae, or for all plant components combined. The experiment has demonstrated that the enrichment responses of coastal lagoons can be diverse, especially at intermediate loadings.


Phytoplankton Macroalgae Dissolve Inorganic Nitrogen Coastal Lagoon Dissolve Inorganic Phosphorus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. I. Taylor
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. W. Nixon
    • 1
  • S. L. Granger
    • 1
  • B. A. Buckley
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of OceanographyThe University of Rhode IslandNarragansett

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