FCE LTER Journal Articles


Periphyton light transmission relationships in Florida Bay and the Florida Keys, USA


Light transmission was measured through intact, submerged periphyton communities on artificial seagrass leaves. The periphyton communities were representative of the communities on Thalassia testudinum in subtropical seagrass meadows. The periphyton communities sampled were adhered carbonate sediment, coralline algae, and mixed algal assemblages. Crustose or film-forming periphyton assemblages were best prepared for light transmission measurements using artificial leaves fouled on both sides, while measurements through three-dimensional filamentous algae required the periphyton to be removed from one side. For one-sided samples, light transmission could be measured as the difference between fouled and reference artificial leaf samples. For two-sided samples, the percent periphyton light transmission to the leaf surface was calculated as the square root of the fraction of incident light. Linear, exponential, and hyperbolic equations were evaluated as descriptors of the periphyton dry weight versus light transmission relationship. Hyperbolic and exponential decay models were superior to linear models and exhibited the best fits for the observed relationships. Differences between the coefficients of determination (r2) of hyperbolic and exponential decay models were statistically insignificant. Constraining these models for 100% light transmission at zero periphyton load did not result in any statistically significant loss in the explanatory capability of the models. In most all cases, increasing model complexity using three-parameter models rather than two-parameter models did not significantly increase the amount of variation explained. Constrained two-parameter hyperbolic or exponential decay models were judged best for describing the periphyton dry weight versus light transmission relationship. On T. testudinum in Florida Bay and the Florida Keys, significant differences were not observed in the light transmission characteristics of the varying periphyton communities at different study sites. Using pooled data from the study sites, the hyperbolic decay coefficient for periphyton light transmission was estimated to be 4.36 mg dry wt. cm−2. For exponential models, the exponential decay coefficient was estimated to be 0.16 cm2 mg dry wt.−1.


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.