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Response of Thalassia Testudinum Morphometry and Distribution to Environmental Drivers in a Pristine Tropical Lagoon.


ABSTRACT: This study was undertaken to determine the relationships between the biomass, morphometry, and density of short shoots (SS) of the tropical seagrass Thalassia testudinum and the physical-environmental forcing in the region. Seasonal sampling surveys were undertaken four times in Bahia de la Ascension, a shallow estuary in the western Mexican Caribbean, to measure plant morphology and environmental variables. The estuary has a fresh water-influenced inner bay, a large central basin and a marine zone featuring a barrier reef at the seaward margin. Leaf size was positively correlated with increasing salinity, but total biomass was not, being similar across most of the sites. Aboveground biomass exhibited seasonal differences in dry and rainy seasons along the bay, most markedly in the brackish inner bay where an abrupt decline in biomass coincided with the rainy season. The relationship between nutrients and biomass indicates that the aboveground/belowground biomass ratio increases as nutrient availability increases. Areal cover was inversely correlated with SS density during both dry and rainy seasons. Maximum SS recruitment coincided with the rainy season. Peaks in SS density were recorded in the freshwater-influenced inner bay during an ENSO cold phase in 2007 ("La Niña") which is associated with a wetter dry season and following a strong storm (Hurricane Dean). The onset of the rainy season influences both shoot density and T. testudinum biomass by controlling the freshwater input to the bay and thus, the system's salinity gradient and external nutrients supply from the coastal wetland.

SUBMITTER: Medina-Gomez I 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5063390 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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