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Total epiphyte and epiphytic carbonate production on Thalassia testudinum across Florida Bay

Author(s): Frankovich TA, Zieman JC

Abstract

Previous investigations of epiphytic carbonate production have suggested that seagrass epiphytes are significant producers of calcium carbonate and may be a primary source of lime muds in Florida Bay. This study determined total epiphyte and epiphytic carbonate standing stocks and calculated minimum estimates of yearly production at seven sites within Florida Bay and one site oceanside of the northern Florida Keys, These sites span a larger geographical area of increased environmental variability than those of previous Florida Bay epiphyte studies which were conducted in areas where conditions are considered favorable for epiphyte production. Total epiphyte and epiphytic carbonate loads along with seagrass shoot density and productivity were measured during four periods between August 1991 and August 1992. Epiphyte composition, standing stock, and production all exhibited marked variation across Florida Bay. Calcifying epiphytes were dominant in Florida Bay, and their distribution and the distribution of epiphyte production appear to reflect differences in the physical characteristics of salinity and the variability thereof. Minimum estimates of annual epiphytic carbonate production range from 1.9 g CaC03·m-2 ·yr-1 to 282.7 g CaCOJ ,m-2 .yr-', a range lower than previous estimates. The differences between these estimates and previous ones are attributed to differences in environments and, to a lesser extent, differences in methodology.

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