Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Elisabeth (Kittredge) Murray, Mount Holyoke College

Class Year: 

Project Title: 

Biogeochemical Cycling in Seagrass Beds: Case Studies in Florida Bay, FL and Chincoteague Bay, VA


Seagrass beds may influence sediment biogeochemical cycling through enhancing nitrification, ammonification, phosphate regeneration, and sulfate reduction as compared to unvegetated sediments. In addition, seagrass health (i.e. die-back) may influence biogeochemical cycling as well. This study was conducted in Florida Bay and Chincoteague. In Florida Bay, I found that concentrations and rates were higher in healthy beds than in unhealthy ones for relative nitrate concentrations and ammonification. No difference in rates between vegetated and unvegetated sediments in Florida Bay were observed. In Chincoteague Bay, differences between vegetated and unvegetated for relative nitrate concentration and ammonification were observed. Sulfate reduction and phosphate regeneration were indeterminate for both study sites. Methods need to be further improved so that reasonable rates can be determined. Once improved, further investigation will be able to elucidate these processes.