Spatial distribution and biomass of aquatic rooted macrophytes and their relevance in the metabolism of a Mediterranean coastal lagoon


  • Biel Obrador Departament d’Ecologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona
  • Joan Lluís Pretus Departament d’Ecologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona
  • Margarita Menéndez Departament d’Ecologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona



coastal lagoons, macrophytes, Ruppia cirrhosa, Western Mediterranean


This work aims to characterise the current autotrophic compartment of the Albufera des Grau coastal lagoon (Menorca, Balearic Islands) and to assess the relationship between the submerged macrophytes and the limnological parameters of the lagoon. During the study period the submerged vegetation was dominated by the macrophyte Ruppia cirrhosa, which formed dense extensive meadows covering 79% of the surface. Another macrophyte species, Potamogeton pectinatus, was also observed but only forming small stands near the rushing streams. Macroalgae were only occasionally observed. Macrophyte biomass showed a clear seasonal trend, with maximum values in July. The biomass of R. cirrhosa achieved 1760 g DW m-2, the highest biomass ever reported for this species in the literature. The seasonal production-decomposition cycle of the macrophyte meadows appears to drive the nutrient dynamics and carbon fluxes in the lagoon. Despite the significant biomass accumulation and the absence of a washout of nutrients and organic matter to the sea, the lagoon did not experience a dystrophic collapse. These results indicate that internal metabolism is more important than exchange processes in the lagoon.


Download data is not yet available.


Adams, J. and G. Bate. – 1994. The tolerance to desiccation of the submerged macrophytes Ruppia cirrhosa (Petagna) Grande and Zostera capensis Setchell. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol., 183: 53-62. doi:10.1016/0022-0981(94)90156-2

Ballester, R. – 1985. Biomasa, estacionalidad y distribución de tres macrófitos: Ruppia cirrhosa, Cymodocea nodosa y Caulerpa prolifera en el Mar Menor (Murcia, SE Spain). Anal. Biol., 4, 31-36.

Barnes, R.S.K. – 1980. Coastal lagoons. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Calado, G. and P. Duarte. – 2000. Modelling growth of Ruppia cirrhosa. Aquat. Bot., 68: 29-44. doi:10.1016/S0304-3770(00)00104-2

Cardona, L. – 2001. Non-competitive coexistence between Mediterranean grey mullet: evidence from seasonal changes in food availability, niche breadth and trophic overlap. J. Fish Biol., 59: 729-744. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2001.tb02376.x

Castel, J., P. Caumette and R. Herbert. – 1996. Eutrophication gradients in coastal lagoons as exemplified by the Bassin d’Arcachon and the Étang du Prévost. Hydrobiologia, 329: ix-xxviii. doi:10.1007/BF00034542

Duarte, C. – 1995. Submerged aquatic vegetation in relation to different nutrient regimes. Ophelia, 41: 87-112.

Duarte, P., J.M. Bernardo, A.M. Costa, F. Macedo, G. Calado and L. Cancela da Fonseca. -2002. Analysis of coastal lagoon metabolism as a basis for management. Aquat. Ecol., 36: 3-19. doi:10.1023/A:1013394521627

Gesti, J., A. Badosa and X. Quintana. – 2005. Reproductive potential in Ruppia cirrhosa (Petagna) Grande in response to water permanence. Aquat. Bot., 81: 191-198. doi:10.1016/j.aquabot.2004.11.005

Hansen, H. and F. Koroleff. – 1999. Determination of nutrients. In: K. Grasshoff, K. Kremling and M. Ehrhardt (eds.), Methods of seawater analysis, pp. 159-228. Wiley-VCH, Wenheim

Hellblom, F. and L. Axelsson. – 2003. External HCO3- dehydration maintained by acid zones in the plasma membrane is an important component of the photosynthetic carbon uptake in Ruppia cirrhosa. Photosynth. Res., 77: 173-181. doi:10.1023/A:1025809415048 PMid:16228374

Jeffrey, S. and G. Humphrey. – 1975. New spectrophotometric equations for determining chlorophyll a,b,c1, and c2 in higher plants, algae and phytoplankton. Biochem. Physiol. Pflanzen, 167: 191-194.

Margalef, R. – 1952. Materiales para la hidrobiología de la isla de Menorca. Pub. Inst. Biol. Apl., XI: 5-112.

Margalef, R. – 1983. Limnología. Omega, Barcelona.

McGlathery, K.J., I.C. Anderson and A.C. Tyler. – 2001. Magnitude and variability of benthic and pelagic metabolism in a temperate coastal lagoon. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 216: 1-15. doi:10.3354/meps216001

Menéndez, M. – 2002. Net production of Ruppia cirrhosa in the Ebro Delta. Aquat. Bot., 73: 107-113. doi:10.1016/S0304-3770(02)00012-8

Menéndez, M., O. Hernández and F.A. Comín. – 2002. Spatial distribution and ecophysiological characteristics of macrophytes in a Mediterranean coastal lagoon. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci., 55: 403-413. doi:10.1006/ecss.2001.0914

Menéndez, M., D. Carlucci, M. Pinna, F.A. Comín and A. Basset. – 2003. Effect of nutrients on decomposition of Ruppia cirrhosa in a shallow coastal lagoon. Hydrobiologia, 506-509: 729-735. doi:10.1023/B:HYDR.0000008568.27981.3d

Menéndez, M., O. Hernandez, N. Sanmartí and F.A. Comín. – 2004. Variability of organic matter processing in a Mediterranean coastal lagoon. Int. Rev. Hydrobiol., 89: 476-483. doi:10.1002/iroh.200410728

Millero, F.J. – 1995. Thermodynamics of the carbon dioxide system in the oceans. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 59: 661-677. doi:10.1016/0016-7037(94)00354-O

Peñuelas, J. and M. Menéndez. – 1990. HCO3- as an exogenous carbon source for Ruppia cirrhosa (Petagna) Grande. Arch. Hydrobiol., 120(1): 89-96.

Pérez, M.J. and J. Camp. – 1986. Distribución espacial y biomasa de las fanerógamas marinas de las bahías del Delta del Ebro. Inv. Pesq., 50: 519-530.

Pretus, J.L. – 1989. Limnología de la Albufera de Menoría (Menorca, España). Limnetica 5: 69-81.

Remane, A. and C. Schlieper. – 1971. Biology of brackish water. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

Stumm, W. and J. Morgan. – 1981. Aquatic chemistry. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

Taylor, D.I., S.W. Nixon, S.L. Granger, B.A. Buckley, J.P. McMahon and H.J. Lin. – 1995. Responses of coastal lagoon plant communities to different forms of nutrient enrichment – a mesocosm experiment. Aquat. Bot., 52: 19-34. doi:10.1016/0304-3770(95)00485-I

Valiela, I., J. McClelland, J. Hauxwell, P.J. Behr, D. Hersh and K. Foreman. – 1997. Macroalgal blooms in shallow estuaries: controls and ecophysiological and ecosystem consequences. Limnol. Oceanogr., 42: 1105-118.

Verhoeven, J. – 1980a. The ecology of Ruppia-dominated communities in western Europe. II. Synecological classification, structure and dynamics of the macroflora and macrofauna communities. Aquat. Bot., 8: 1-85. doi:10.1016/0304-3770(80)90044-3

Verhoeven, J. – 1980b. The ecology of Ruppia-dominated communities in western Europe. III. Aspects of production, consumption and decomposition. Aquat. Bot., 8: 209-253. doi:10.1016/0304-3770(80)90053-4

Viaroli, P., M. Bartoli, C. Bondavalli, R. Christian, G. Giordani and M. Naldi. – 1996. Macrophyte communities and their impact on benthic fluxes of oxygen, sulphide and nutrients in shallow eutrophic environments. Hydrobiologia, 329: 105-119. doi:10.1007/BF00034551

Viaroli, P. and R. Christian. – 2003. Description of trophic status, hyperautotrophy and dystrophy of a coastal lagoon through a potential oxygen production and consumption index—TOSI: Trophic Oxygen Status Index. Ecol. Indic., 3: 237-250.




How to Cite

Obrador B, Pretus JL, Menéndez M. Spatial distribution and biomass of aquatic rooted macrophytes and their relevance in the metabolism of a Mediterranean coastal lagoon. scimar [Internet]. 2007Mar.30 [cited 2022Dec.5];71(1):57-64. Available from: