Science Inventory

Development of an epiphyte indicator of nutrient enrichment: Threshold values for seagrass epiphyte load

Citation:

Nelson, Walt. Development of an epiphyte indicator of nutrient enrichment: Threshold values for seagrass epiphyte load. ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS. Elsevier Science Ltd, New York, NY, 74:343-356, (2017).

Impact/Purpose:

An indicator of coastal nutrient enrichment based on epiphyte load on macrophytes is developed and quantitatively derived threshold ranges for the index are derived. The approach presented empirically derives threshold epiphyte loads which are likely to cause specified levels of decrease in macrophyte response metrics such as biomass, shoot density, percent cover, production and growth. Data from 36 studies of 10 macrophyte species were pooled to derive relationships between epiphyte load and -25 and -50% seagrass response levels, which are proposed as the primary basis for establishment of critical threshold values. Given multiple sources of variability in the response data, threshold ranges based on the values falling between the median and the 75th quantiles of observations at a given seagrass response level are proposed rather than single, critical point values. Four epiphyte load threshold categories were proposed - low, moderate, high, very high. These load ranges are realistic given comparison to loads known to cause similar ranges in reductions to light available to macrophytes, which is a principle mechanism for causing impacts. This paper contributes to SSWR 4.02B.

Description:

Metrics of epiphyte load on macrophytes were evaluated for use as quantitative biological indicators for nutrient impacts in estuarine waters, based on review and analysis of the literature on epiphytes and macrophytes, primarily seagrasses, but including some brackish and freshwater rooted macrophyte species. An approach is presented that empirically derives threshold epiphyte loads which are likely to cause specified levels of decrease in macrophyte response metrics such as biomass, shoot density, percent cover, production and growth. Data from 36 studies of 10 macrophyte species were pooled to derive relationships between epiphyte load and -25 and -50% seagrass response levels, which are proposed as the primary basis for establishment of critical threshold values. Given multiple sources of variability in the response data, threshold ranges based on the range of values falling between the median and the 75th quantiles of observations at a given seagrass response level are proposed rather than single, critical point values. Four epiphyte load threshold categories - low, moderate, high, very high, are proposed. Comparison of values of epiphyte loads associated with 25 and 50% reductions in light to macrophytes suggest that the threshold ranges are realistic both in terms of the principle mechanism of impact to macrophytes and in terms of the magnitude of resultant impacts expressed by the macrophytes. Some variability in response levels was observed among climate regions, and additional data collected with a standardized approach could help in the development of regionalized threshold ranges for epiphyte indicators.

URLs/Downloads:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.11.035   Exit

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Product Published Date: 03/01/2017
Record Last Revised: 02/09/2017
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 335269

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

PACIFIC COASTAL ECOLOGY BRANCH