Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Kellie (Splain) Merrell, Hood College

Class Year: 
1991

Project Title: 

The Contribution of Reduced New Nitrogen By Nitrogen Fixation in Chincoteague Bay's Population of Submerged Aquatic Angiosperm, Zostera marina

Abstract: 

Zoestera marina is a submerged saline aquatic angiosperm that densely inhabits Chincoteague Bay. The high productivity of this population of a marine primary producer demands high amounts of organic nitrogen, which is usually the limiting nutrient in marine systems. The purpose of this study was to determine what percentage of Chincoteague Bay Z. marina's nitrogen requirements were being met by nitrogen fixing bacteria associated with the plant's roots and rhizomes. The acetylene reduction technique was employed to measure nitrogen reduction over a 30h period, in August 1991 in Chincoteague Bay, Maryland. The nitrogen reduction rates were so low that even if Z. marina was utilizing all the newly fixed nitrogen, it would only provide the plant with 0.89% of a conservative Z. marina nitrogen requirement estimate.