Clear water associated with biomass and nutrient variation during the growth of a Charophyte stand after a drawdown, in a tropical coastal lagoon

Palma-Silva, Cleber; Albertoni, Edélti Faria; Esteves, Francisco de Assis


The community of Charophytes in the Imboassica coastal lagoon in Brazil (22◦ 24_ S and 42◦ 42_ W) sometimes occupies almost the entire benthic region, and presents a large variation in C:N:P ratio. The effect of drawdown on the regeneration and buildup of biomass and on the nutrient concentration of these macroalgae was studied at three different sampling sites. Drawdown results in a high level of mortality in the macroalgae stands and after the water level later rises, the process of oospore germination begins. The drawdowns occurred in November 96 and January 97, and after March 97 we took samples in order to determine biomass values and the concentration of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. The results indicate that the fast growth of Charophytes may absorb a great amount of the nutrients entering the lagoon. The biomass reached maximum values of between 400 and 600 g DW m−2, and the C:N:P ratio varied from 51:7:1 to 1603:87:1, indicating that this macroalgae may grow in a wide range of nutrient concentration. The presence of this community in the Imboassica lagoon may act as one of the limiting factors controlling phytoplanktonic primary production, decreasing nutrient availability in the water column (‘bottom-up’ control) and keeping the water clear after drawdowns. Probably through the habitat structure produced by the great biomass reached, they provide substrate and shelter for the structuring of a community with grazing zooplankton, which acts as a ‘top-down’ controlling mechanism on the phytoplankton.

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