Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 731–742 | Cite as

Regulation of Nitrate Uptake by the Seagrass Zostera marina During Upwelling

  • José M. Sandoval-Gil
  • María del Carmen Ávila-López
  • Víctor F. Camacho-IbarEmail author
  • José Martín Hernández-Ayón
  • José A. Zertuche-González
  • Alejandro Cabello-Pasini


Prolonged nitrogen (N) fertilization can impact seagrass survival and productivity; however, the effects of N enrichment pulses (e.g., upwelling or sediment resuspension) remain poorly understood. This study examined the effects of short-term (1 h) pulsing of nitrate (NO3) enrichment, simulating an upwelling event, on dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and NO3 uptake capacities, critical in controlling eelgrass productivity. Zostera marina dominates submerged vegetation in coastal lagoons influenced by upwelling in the California Current system. Laboratory incubations were conducted in winter (non-upwelling) and spring (upwelling) with shoots collected from San Quintín Bay meadows, Baja California, Mexico, differentially exposed to upwelled NO3. Results suggest that NO3 enrichment stimulated DIC and NO3 uptake in winter, reflecting the close relationship between carbon metabolism and NO3 assimilation. Eelgrass shoots showed reduced NO3 incorporation in spring; neither NO3 uptake nor photosynthesis increased when exposed to high NO3. Saturation of spring shoots at lower ambient NO3 concentrations may be interpreted as a physiological strategy to restrict metabolically costly NO3 incorporation during upwelling; this regulation of NO3 uptake strongly contrasts to the apparently full exploitation of this nutrient by seaweeds also dominant within the bay, as indicated in previous works. Despite their reduced NO3 uptake, eelgrass meadows near the bay mouth acquire NO3 at rates up to 4.2 mmol N m−2 day−1. This represents non-trivial water column NO3 removal compared to the estimated oceanic NO3 supply (~ 7.1 mmol m−2 day−1) during upwelling, highlighting the importance of Z. marina beds in controlling the lagoonal N-budget.


Zostera marina Upwelling Pulsed nitrate fertilization DIC uptake N uptake 



This research was funded by the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT, Mexico, project CB-2010-01-154376 awarded to VFCI). JMSG was supported by a postdoctoral grant from the Mexican Ministry of Public Education (SEP, PROMEP/103.5/13/5009). We are especially grateful to Julieta Hernández, Nevia Alfaro, and Jesús Galarza (IIO-UABC) for their technical support.

We sincerely thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments which helped to improve the final version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • José M. Sandoval-Gil
    • 1
  • María del Carmen Ávila-López
    • 1
  • Víctor F. Camacho-Ibar
    • 1
    Email author
  • José Martín Hernández-Ayón
    • 1
  • José A. Zertuche-González
    • 1
  • Alejandro Cabello-Pasini
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones OceanológicasUniversidad Autónoma de Baja CaliforniaEnsenadaMexico

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