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The exchange of dissolved nutrients between the water column and substrate pore-water due to hydrodynamic adjustment at seagrass meadow edges: a flume study

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Limnology and Oceanography
Issue number6
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)2286-2295
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date6/08/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Seagrasses need dissolved nutrients to maintain their productivity through uptake processes, from substrate pore-water via their roots and/or from the water column via their leaves. Here, we present the first study of exchanges of dissolved nutrients between pore water and the water column in the vicinity of seagrass canopies. We address the following research questions, using a laboratory flume experiment: (1) How does solute exchange between the water column and substrate pore water vary spatially within seagrass patches? (2) How does seagrass leaf length affect this solute exchange? (3) How does the measured rate of solute exchange compare with seagrasses’ rates of uptake of dissolved nutrients? Our results indicate that solute intrusion from the water column into the substrate pore water is highest in the area around seagrass patches’ leading edges, where flow deceleration is strongest, and decreases approximately linearly with downstream distance into the patch. The decrease in measured flow speed in the canopy fits well the predictions of previously reported models of arrays of rigid obstacles. The length of the region in which the concentration of solute that has infiltrated into the substrate at the upstream end of the seagrass patches is similar to the length scale predicted from model estimates of infiltration rate (based on the substrate permeability) and the length
of time over 24-h runs. We conclude that the mechanism we identify only pertains near canopy edges, and therefore that other mechanisms must govern nutrient supply in the interior of seagrass meadows.