Ecological Implications

The Effects of Eutrophication on Seagrass Communities

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Seagrass communities are an important component of the shallow coastal waters. They serve as the breeding grounds for many species of fish that have commercial uses and provide food for water fowl. The seagrasses help to maintain water quality by increasing primary productivity and dissolved oxygen. They reduce concentrations of nutrients and sediments in the water column (Short and Neckles, 1998). Eutrophication results in the decline of seagrass communities. Excesses in nutrients, resulting from runoff from agrcultural fields result in large blooms of phytoplankton. These large algal blooms shade out the seagrass living below which dies due to a lack of light for photosynthesis (Wang et. al., 1999). Sedimentation also results in increased turbidity in the water column, increasing shading of seagrass. These are highly productive communities housing a diverstiy of organisms. The loss of the seagrass communities is detrimental to the aquatic ecosystem.

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