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Decomposition of Ruppia cirrhosa (Petagna) Grande in the sediment of a coastal lagoon
Margarita Menéndez, Elisenda Forés, Francisco A. Comín

The decomposition process of Ruppia cirrhosa was studied in a Mediterranean coastal lagoon in the Delta of the River Ebro (NE Spain). Leaves and shoots of Ruppia were enclosed in 1 mm-mesh and 100 pm-mesh litter bags to ascertain the effect of detritivores, macroinvertebrates, and bacteria and fungi, respectively. Changes in biomass and carbon, and, nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in the detritus were studied at the sediment-water interface and in the sediment. Significant differences in biomass decay were observed between the two bag types. Significant differences in decomposition were observed between the two experimental conditions studied using 100 pm-mesh bags. These differences were not significant when using the 1 mm-mesh bags. The carbon content in the detritus remained constant during the decomposition process. The percentage of nitrogen increased progressively from an initial 2.4 % to 3 %. The percentage of phosphorus decreased rapidly during the first two days of decomposition from an initial 0.26 % to 0.17 %. This loss is greater in the sediment than in the water column or at the sediment-water interface. From these results we deduce that the activity of microorganisms seems to be more important in the sediment than in the water-sediment interface, and that grazing by macroinvertebrates has less importance in the sediment than in the water column.

Keywords: Decomposition rates, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, Ruppia cirrhosa, Ebro river delta, NE Spain.
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 57(1) : 15-21 Back PDF
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