Production dynamics in a macrophyte-dominated ecosystem: The Mar Menor coastal lagoon (SE Spair)


  • Jorge Terrados
  • Joan Domenec Ros

Paraules clau:

Macrophytobenthos, primary production, Caulerpa prolifera, Cymodocea nodosa, Mar Menor lagoon.


The greater part of the bottom of the Mar Menor, a hypersaline coastal lagoon in the south-east of the Iberian Peninsula, is covered by meadows of Caulerpa prolifera and Cymodocea nodosa. Both species show marked seasonality in their biomass cycles, reaching their highest annual values in summer-auturnn and their lowest in winter-spring. The annual production of the C. prolifera mud-based rneadows is estirnated at 630-707 g dw m-2 y" 1 . Leaf production of the C. nodosa rneadows varies between 1 62 and 427 g dw m-2 y"1 , while rhizome production varies between 45 and 78 g dw m-2 y" 1 . C. prolifera growth seems to be limited by the availability of nitrogen in the water column, while C. nodosa growth is limited by the availability of nitrogen and phosphorus. Both species show adaptation in their photosynthetic characteristics ele, Ik, Pmax) to seasonal variation in the water temperature of the lagoon. The values of these parameters for C. prolifera suggest that this species is adapted to life in habitats of less irradiance than C. nodosa. The distribution of C. nodosa meadows in the lagoon is controlled by the availability of light at the bottom. Overall primary production of the Mar Menor can be estirnated at roughly 41270 Tm C y" 1 (sorne 300 g C rn-2 y" 1 ); 64% of the lagoon's prirnary production is produced by the macrophytobenthos, 1] % by the microphytobenthos and 25% by the phytoplankton.