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Cover of coastal vegetation as an indicator of eutrophication along environmental gradients
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre.
Number of Authors: 4
2016 (English)In: Marine Biology, ISSN 0025-3162, E-ISSN 1432-1793, Vol. 163, no 12, 257Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Coastal vegetation communities are important for primary production, biodiversity, coastal protection, carbon and nutrient cycling which, in combination with their sensitivity to eutrophication, render them potential indicators of environmental status for environmental policies like the EU Water and Marine Strategy Framework Directives. We evaluated one potential indicator for coastal vegetation, the cumulative cover at depths where the vegetation is light limited, by investigating its response to eutrophication along gradients in natural conditions. We used a large data set covering the Swedish coastline, spanning broad gradients in nutrient level, water clarity, sea-bed substrate, physical exposure and climate in addition to a salinity gradient from 0.5 to 30.5. Macroalgal cover increased significantly along gradients of declining nutrient concentration and increasing water clarity when we had accounted for diver effects, spatio-temporal sampling variability, salinity gradients, wave exposure and latitude. The developed empirical model explained 79% of the variation in algal cover across 130 areas. Based on this, we identified macroalgal cover as a promising indicator across the Baltic Sea, Kattegat and Skagerrak. A parallel analysis of soft-substrate macrophytes similarly identified significant increases in cover with decreasing concentrations of total nitrogen and increasing salinity, but the resulting empirical model explained only 52% of the variation in cover, probably due to the spatially more variable nature of soft-substrate vegetation. The identified general responses of vegetation cover to gradients of eutrophication across wide ranges in environmental settings may be useful for monitoring and management of marine vegetation in areas with strong environmental gradients.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 163, no 12, 257
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-137600DOI: 10.1007/s00227-016-3032-6ISI: 000388685000020OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-137600DiVA: diva2:1065815
Available from: 2017-01-16 Created: 2017-01-09 Last updated: 2017-01-16Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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