Nutrient cycling in salt marshes: An ecosystem service to reduce eutrophication: Marshes: Ecology, Management and Conservation

A. I. Lillebø, A. I. Sousa, M. R. Flindt, M. E. Pereira, A. C. Duarte, M. A. Parda, I. Caçador

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Salt marshes are classified as sensitive habitat under the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), which aims to promote the maintenance of biodiversity. Worldwide, the reduction of salt marsh areas, as a result of anthropogenic disturbance is of major concern, and several studies on the ecology of estuaries have emphasized the negative consequences of its disappearance. In addition, as a result of increasing global population and increasing human activities, salt marshes, estuaries and other coastal waters have been subjected to increasing nutrient loadings with anthropogenic origin. This chapter aims to draw attention to the sequestration capacity of salt marshes for the excess of nutrients, and to evaluate the ecological services provided by salt marsh halophytes by regulating the biogeochemical cycles of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). In this context, two case studies will be presented and discussed: By comparing young and mature marshes colonised by Saprtina maritima, we will evaluate their behaviour as sink or source of nutrients; By comparing two halophytes with distinct life cycles (Spartina maritima and Scirpus maritimus), we will evaluate species-specific N and P cycling and sequestration in salt marshes. This chapter will thus emphasise that salt marsh halophytes have a crucial role on nutrient cycling and sequestration, providing ecological services that contribute to maintain the ecosystem health. © 2012 Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarshes: Ecology, Management and Conservation
Number of pages34
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Publication date2013
ISBN (Print)978-161942715-0
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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