The Importance of Nutrients in Seagrass Ecology

The interest of seagrass ecologists in nutrient dynamics probably comes from two contrasting approaches. On the one hand, seagrass beds are sites of high, sometimes luxuriant, primary production. On the other hand, seagrasses frequently occur in olig-otrophic waters (e.g. Mediterranean, tropical waters). The question of how seagrasses are able to sustain such a high primary productivity under conditions of low-nutrient availability has often puzzled the scientific community, just as it has for coral reefs. Moreover, the fact that seagrasses are rooted plants raises, in this context, the additional question about how such 'uncommon' marine plants perform under aquatic conditions.

On the other hand, the recent increase of nutrient concentrations in coastal waters, following the process of anthropogenic eutrophication, has promoted a considerable interest in the effects of increased nutrient levels on plant physiology and ecosystem functioning (see Walker et al., Chapter 23; Ralph et al., Chapter 24; Kenworthy et al., Chapter 25).

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