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Interannual changes in seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) growth and environmental change in the Spanish Mediterranean littoral zone

By Ntiria Marbh and Carlos A. Duarte


The inter-annual changes in leaf formation and vertical growth rates and their correlation to the records available of environmental change (rainfall, mean sea level, water temperature, and transparency) were examined in 15 Posidonia oceanica meadows growing along the Spanish Mediterranean coast between 1967 and 1992. P. oceanica leaf production fluctuated interannually, but it did not exhibit any steady trend toward decline, indicative of nonhuman effects on changes in water quality in these areas. Conversely, the steady decline in vertical rhizome growth rate of P. oceanica observed in two sites suggests that shoreline erosion there could derive from human activities. In all meadows examined, interannual variability in vertical rhizome growth of P. oceanica showed clear oscillating trends, suggesting alternating episodes of sediment erosion and accretion every 7 yr and at least every 25 yr. Mean sea level and surface water temperature have been increasing for the last two decades, but water transparency has been declining. However, overall trends only accounted for 24-37 % of the long-term climatic variance. Rainfall interannual changes were dominated by time scales of 8 and 28 yr, whereas water transparency, temperature, an

Year: 2013
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