Alternate Title

Spatial Influences on Temporal Variations in Leaf Growth and Chemical Composition of Thalassia testudinum Banks Ex König in Tampa Bay, Florida

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The importance of spatial influences on seasonal fluctuations in Thalassia testudinum leaf blade lengths and chemical constituents was demonstrated. Differences between samples from fringe and mid-bed for several constituents were significant and, if not accounted for, could affect the measurement of apparent seasonal cycles. Fringe-shoots, reflecting the influence of more intense grazing activity, had shorter leaf blade lengths, lower dry weights and carbohydrate levels, and higher protein levels than mid-bed shoots. Mid-bed rhizomes and roots had highest protein and ash levels reflecting possible sediment influence. Percent ash and protein in the rhizomes, and percent carbohydrate in the roots exhibited seasonal fluctuations, but the levels were different between fringe and mid-bed samples. Protein levels were greatest in shoots and roots, while carbohydrate levels were highest in rhizomes, illustrating the respective partitioning of biosynthetic and storage functions. The spatial differences seem to reflect gradients in biological and chemical interactions, and they may play an important role in trophic interactions in seagrass systems.

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