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The loss of seagrass in cockburn sound, Western Australia. III. The effect of epiphytes on productivity of Posidonia australis Hook. F.

Silberstein, K., Chiffings, A.W. and McComb, A.J. (1986) The loss of seagrass in cockburn sound, Western Australia. III. The effect of epiphytes on productivity of Posidonia australis Hook. F. Aquatic Botany, 24 (4). pp. 355-371.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0304-3770(86)90102-6
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Abstract

The hypothesis was examined that increased epiphyte growth was responsible for a reduction in seagrass meadows in Cockburn Sound during the discharge of nutrient-rich effluent. One study site was in a deteriorating meadow near an effluent outfall, the other at similar depth in an unaffected meadow in more oceanic water. Seagrass production at the first site was less than that at the second, with 33% lower growth per shoot and 29% less dense meadow. Water at the former site had higher mean concentrations of chlorophyll and phosphate than the latter, but light reaching the seagrass meadows was not significantly different. Epiphyte loads (as dry weight or chlorophyll per unit leaf area) were 2–8 times higher at the former site. Seasonal changes in epiphyte loads were well correlated with periphyton biomass on glass slides or plastic seagrass.

Photosynthesis of leaf segments, with and without epiphytes, was measured using an oxygen meter in the laboratory; epiphyte photosynthetic rates were similar to those of periphyton on plastic, expressed per unit chlorophyll. The percentage reduction in light by known periphyton loads was measured, and used to calculate light reduction by epiphytes in the field, which was estimated to be 63% on average at the first site and 15% at the second. Pooling data for sites and seasons, there was a negative log-linear relationship between leaf production and epiphyte load. The observations provide support for the suggestion that seagrass loss in the Sound may be attributed to enhanced epiphyte loads following nutrient enrichment.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 1986 Published by Elsevier B.V.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/17463
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