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Ecological Section

Hager, Holland [1], Mitra, Madhumi [2], Schwarz, Jurgen [3].

Edible Seaweed Succession and the Impact of Macroalgal Blooms on the Local Eelgrass (Zostera marina) Populations in the Chincoteague Bay.

Seaweed succession, dominance, and blooms can have a great impact to other forms of life in an aquatic ecosystem. Ulva lactuca, Fucus vesciculosus, Gracilaria tikvahiae, and Codium fragile are four dominant edible seaweeds from the Chincoteague Bay. The relative abundance of these edible seaweeds over the seasons was investigated. Parenchymatous pioneer species, such as U. lactuca, were dominant in summer and fall, while more resistant species like F. vesciculosus were more abundant later in the winter and into spring. This shift in species dominance has many factors, such as simple construction, rapid colonizing ability and uptake of nutrients, and high productivity and surface area to volume ratio of U. lactuca and other pioneer species allow them to thrive during early stages of succession (summer through fall). This also leaves them open to predation, abiotic factors such as wave dessication, and limited time for reproduction. These factors facilitate the more herbivore resistant forms such as F. vesciculosus to take over once they are able to establish themselves in the area. Moisture analysis done on seaweed specimens correlate with these characteristics: the more delicate U. lactuca and filamentous G. tikvahiae had higher moisture (78-86%) contents than F. vesciculosus (61-83%). The four dominant edible seaweeds also serve as "nuisance species" responsible for local blooms leading to oxygen depletion, reducing light penetration through the water column, and impacting negatively the overall water quality. It has been speculated that these macrophyte blooms were contributing to the decline of local eelgrass populations in the Chincoteague Bay.


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1 - University of Maryland Eastern Shore/Salisbury University, Natural Sciences/Biology, Backbone Road, Princess Anne, Maryland, 21853, USA
2 - University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Natural Sciences, Backbone Road, Princess Anne, Maryland, 21853, USA
3 - University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Food Science and Technology Program, 1104 Center for Food Science & Technology, Princess Anne, Maryland, 21853, USA

Keywords:
succession
Chincoteague Bay Blooms Seaweeds Succession.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 37-11
Location: Salon A - Gov Ballroom/Hilton
Date: Tuesday, August 16th, 2005
Time: 4:45 PM
Abstract ID:304


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