Trophic categorization in the Rías Baixas (NW Spain): nutrients in water and in macroalgae
Rubén Villares and Alejo Carballeira
Marine eutrophication caused by an excess supply of nutrients is a serious problem in many coastal areas throughout the world. In the present study we used the capacity of macroalgae (Ulva and Enteromorpha) to integrate the nutrient regime of a water body in order to examine the trophic categorization in the embayments studied. We found that the trophic categorization established based on nutrient levels in macroalgae differed from that established based on concentrations in the water. The waters of the innermost areas of the inlets were the most nutrient enriched; the algae appeared to be more affected by specific local conditions and did not display the gradient of decreasing nutrient concentrations from inner to outer areas that was observed in the water samples. The lack of correspondence between nutrients in the water and in the algae in the present study may have been due to the heterogeneous nutrient conditions found in coastal areas, so that the intertidal algae did not adequately reflect the nutrient levels of the inner zones of the embayments under study.