ALVAREZ Maria Fernanda
Effect of dominant Spartina species on salt marsh detritus production in SW Atlantic estuaries
DIANA I. MONTEMAYOR; MARIANA ADDINO; EUGENIA FANJUL; MAURICIO ESCAPA; M. FERNANDA ALVAREZ; FLORENCIA BOTTO; OSCAR O. IRIBARNE
JOURNAL OF SEA RESEARCH
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
Lugar: Amsterdan; Año: 2011 vol. 66 p. 104 - 110
Two cordgrass species of the genus Spartina cohabit in SW Atlantic (southern Brazil 31º48´S to Argentinean Patagonia, 43º20´S) salt marshes. Some salt marshes are dominated by the dense-flowered cordgrass Spartina densiflora (which inhabits the upper intertidal level) and others by the smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora (which inhabits the lower intertidal level). We investigated how the different species dominance affects the detritus dynamics in the Bahia Blanca estuary (38º47´S, 62º20´W Argentina). Field measurements of annual detritus production using destructive methods show that both plants are similar. However, detritus of S. alterniflora shows higher decomposition rates than that of S. densiflora. This difference may be due to a larger N content, lower lignocellulose content and lower C/N ratio of S. alternifora when compared with S. densiflora. Moreover, field sampling shows that S. alterniflora has a larger amount of trapped litter that, according to the litterbag method, has higher decomposition rates. Therefore it is highly likely that S. alterniflora salt marshes contribute towards more profitable detritus for estuarine food webs than marshes dominated by S. densiflora.These results illustrate that the composition of the coastal plant community can determine the quality and profitability of the detritus that support estuarine food webs. They also illustrate that salt marshes belonging to a same biogeographic group and even coexisting in great proximity can have very different ecosystemic roles.