Leaf dynamics and standing stocks of intertidal Zostera noltii Hornem. and Cymodocea nodosa (Ucria) Ascherson on the Banc d’Arguin (Mauritania)
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Leaf dynamics and standing stocks of intertidal seagrasses were studied in the Baie d’Aouatif (Parc National du Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania) in April and September 1988. Standing stocks of Zostera noltii Hörnern, suggest a unimodal seasonal curve similar to what is found for populations at higher latitudes. Also, leaf growth rates (0.03 cm2 cm-2 day-1 on average) were similar to those found at higher latitudes in these months. Variation in leaf loss over tidal depth, time and different locations in the Baie d’Aouatif was larger and more often significant than variation in leaf growth. In general, Z. noltii beds in the Baie d’Aouatif had comparable leaf growth rates and standing stocks. In both months losses were almost always higher than or equal to growth.
Variation in leaf loss over time was much higher in the plots that were situated high in the intertidal than in lower plots. This is explained by differences in susceptibility to sloughing, which is presumably higher in periods with low tide around noon for shallow depths.
In an experiment using artificial shading nets, in situ leaf growth was affected negatively from 94% shading onwards. This shading was observed to reduce the light intensity reaching the seagrass bed to a level below the reported range of light compensation points for Z. noltii.
Cymodocea nodosa (Ucria) Ascherson on average had higher leaf area and relative growth rates than Z. noltii and much lower loss rates, resulting in a positive net increase in September. Standing stocks were also higher than for Z. noltii. A mixed seagrass bed containing the above two species and Halodule wrightii Ascherson had the highest observed total biomass: 335 g m-2 ash-free dry weight.
Key wordsZostera noltii Cymodocea nodosa growth, seagrass
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