Detrital stocks and dynamics of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile in the Spanish Mediterranean

Just Cebrian*, Carlos M. Duarte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Previous studies have shown that most leaf production (>90%) of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica is shed after senescence and that a substantial percentage (up to 80%) may thereafter be exported off the seagrass meadows by waves and currents. It has also been reported that P. oceanica meadows can accumulate large stocks of belowground detritus due to slow decomposition rates. However, the generality of these results across broad spatial scales is poorly known. In this report, we examine the fate of leaf production and the magnitude and dynamics of belowground detritus in 16 P. oceanica meadows distributed along the Spanish Mediterranean. Herbivores removed a small percentage of leaf production in all the meadows (≤13%), with most leaf production (>85%) being shed after senescence. Most shed leaves (>90%) were exported off the meadows by physical agents, such as waves and currents. The amount of belowground detritus stored within 10-15 cm from the sediment surface varied from ca. 70 to 7500 g DW m-2 among the meadows examined, and they accumulated at rates ranging from ca. 65 to 650 g DW m-2 per year. These values are large when compared to other communities of aquatic and terrestrial macrophytes. Our results show that P. oceanica meadows in the Spanish Mediterranean support high values of secondary production in other systems by exporting large amounts of leaf detritus as well as acting as substantial carbon sinks by accumulating large reservoirs of belowground detritus. Therefore, the increasing anthropogenic threats on P. oceanica could entail an important loss of secondary production and carbon storage in Mediterranean coastal ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-309
Number of pages15
JournalAquatic Botany
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Detrital stocks
  • Posidonia oceanica
  • Primary production
  • Spanish mediterranean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Detrital stocks and dynamics of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile in the Spanish Mediterranean'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this