Rates of changes in organic matter and nutrient stocks during seagrass Cymodocea nodosa colonization and stand development

Morten F. Pedersen*, Carlos M. Duarte, Just Cebrián

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The rates of changes in stocks of organic matter and major nutrients (N and P) during colonization and development of seagrass Cymodocea nodose biomass in a semi-closed estuary, Alfacs Bay, Spain, were studied. The non-vegetated sediments of Alfacs Bay contain large reserves of N and P, but most of these nutrients are not readily available for plant growth as they are tied up in organic matter or mineral fractions within the sediment. Seagrass biomass per unit area increased linearly during the first 5 yr after colonization although the very low tissue concentrations of P in leaves of C, nodosa suggested P limitation. Development of plant biomass was accompanied by a net accumulation of N at a rate of 3.6 g N m-2 yr-1. Half of this increase was caused by the build up of plant-bound N in living and dead biomass, while the other half was accounted for by accumulation in other N fractions. P accumulated as plant-bound P, but this fraction constituted less than 1% of the total P pool. Accumulation of plant-bound P was of the same magnitude as depletion of other P fractions, leaving the pool of total P unaffected by plant development. These results suggest that colonization and development C. nodosa in Alfacs Bay facilitate capture and accumulation of external N within the stands; while P may be mobilized from mineral-bound P reserves within the sediments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Nov 29 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Estuaries
  • Nitrogen
  • Nutrient accumulation
  • Phosphorus
  • Seagrasses
  • Sediments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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