Jackson Estuarine Laboratory

Eelgrass recovery after nutrient enrichment reversal


Mumford Cove, a 48 ha Connecticut embayment on Long Island Sound, has a history of excessive nutrient inputs and corresponding eutrophic conditions with concomitant eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) loss. From 1945 to 1987, a municipal wastewater treatment facility discharged into the cove. In 1987, when the wastewater outfall was diverted to another location, the cove supported a near monoculture of the green algae Ulva lactuca L., covering 74% of the bottom. By 1988, macroalgal areal cover in Mumford Cove had declined to 9%. When we first sampled the cove in 1992, Z. marina and Ruppia maritima L. were present. By 1999, areal distribution of Z. marina and R. maritima had expanded to cover a third of the bottom. Periodic summertime surveys from 2002 through 2004 indicated that Z. marina was present in approximately half of the cove; R. maritima was sparse. Fifteen years after termination of nutrient enrichment, this cove had recovered from 40 years of point source anthropogenic nutrient input, returning from an Ulva-dominated to a Zostera-dominated state.

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Aquatic Botany



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