Jackson Estuarine Laboratory

Evidence for phosphorus limitation in carbonate sediments of the seagrass Syringodium filiforme


The seagrass Syringodium filiforme was examined in an ecological analysis of plant nutrient requirements and nutrient resource availability. Assessment of the sediment geochemistry in a San Salvador Island seagrass bed indicated that phosphorus was not readily accessible to the plants. Ammonium regeneration in the fine-grained carbonate sediments was high, and interstitial concentrations averaged ca. 100 μM while phosphate replenishment to interstitial water was low, and concentrations were generally less than 2 μM. Analysis of the seagrass leaf tissue content (C : N : P = 1390 : 47 : 1, atomic wt) suggested that nitrogen and phosphorus were both depleted relative to carbon. However, this high N : P for S. filiforme and the low concentration of phosphate available in the interstitial water established the likelihood that plant acquisition of phosphorus was limited. The finding of high root biomass relative to leaf biomass in these seagrass beds corroborates this evidence by depicting a method of plant adaptation that increases nutrient absorptive root surface area.

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Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science

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Copyright © 1985 Published by Elsevier Ltd.