FCE LTER Journal Articles


Intra- and interannual variability in seagrass carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes from south Florida, a preliminary study


δ13C and δ15N values were determined for the seagrassThalassia testudinum at four permanent seagrass monitoring stations in southFlorida, USA, through a quarterly sampling program over 3-years (1996–1998). All sites are seagrass beds with water depths of less than 6 m. Two sites are located on the Florida Bay side of the Florida Keys, and the other two sites are on the Atlantic side. The data analyzed over the 3 year study period display unique patterns associated with seasonal changes in primary productivity and potentially changes in the N and C pools. The mean carbon and nitrogenisotope values of T. testudinum from all four stations vary from −7.2 to −10.4‰ and 1.1 to 2.2‰, respectively. However, certain stations displayed anomalously depleted nitrogenisotope values (as low as −1.2‰). These values may indicate that biogeochemical processes like N fixation, ammonification and denitrification cause temporal changes in the isotopic composition of the source DIN. Both δ13C and δ15N values displayed seasonal enrichment-depletion patterns, with maximum enrichment occurring during the summer to early fall. The intra-annual variations of δ13C values from the different stations ranged from about 1 to 3.5‰; whereas variations in δ15N ranged from about 1 to 4.9‰. Certain sites showed a positive relationship between isotope values and productivity. These data indicate δ13C values display a high degree of seasonal variability as related to changes in productivity. δ15N values show clear intra-annual variations, but the observed changes do not necessarily follow a distinct seasonal cycle, indicating that changes in DIN will need further investigation.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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