Estuaries and Coasts

Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Thalassia testudinum Leaf Tissue Nutrients at Chandeleur Islands

Author(s): Kelly Darnell

Seagrasses are submerged marine plants that are anchored to the substrate and are therefore limited to assimilating nutrients from the surrounding water column or sediment, or by translocating nutrients from adjacent shoots through the belowground rhizome. As a result, seagrasses have been used as reliable ecosystem indicators of surrounding nutrient conditions. The Chandeleur Islands are a chain of barrier islands in the northern Gulf of Mexico that support the only marine seagrass beds in Louisiana, USA, and are the sole location of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum across nearly 1000 km of the coastline from west Florida to central Texas. Over the past 150 years, the land area of the Chandeleur Islands has decreased by over half, resulting in a decline of seagrass cover. The goals of this study were to characterize the status of a climax seagrass species at the Chandeleur Islands, T. testudinum, in terms of leaf nutrient changes over time, from 1998 to 2015, and to assess potential drivers of leaf nutrient content.