A field experiment was employed in Florida Bay investigating the response of seagrass epiphyte communities to nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) additions. While most of the variability in epiphyte community structure was related to uncontrolled temporal and spatial environmental heterogeneity, P additions increased the relative abundance of the red algae-cyanobacterial complex and green algae, with a concomitant decrease in diatoms. When N was added along with P, the observed changes to the diatoms and the red algae-cyanobacterial complex were in the same direction as P-only treatments, but the responses were decreased in magnitude. Within the diatom community, species relative abundances, species richness, and diversity responded weakly to nutrient addition. P additions produced changes in diatom community structure that were limited to summer and were stronger in eastern Florida Bay than in the western bay. These changes were consistent with well-established temporal and spatial patterns of P limitation. Despite the significant change in community structure resulting from P addition, diatom communities from the same site and time, regardless of nutrient treatment, remained more similar to one another than to the diatom communities subject to identical nutrient treatments from different sites and times. Overall, epiphyte communities exhibited responses to P addition that were most evident at the division level.
Keywords: Florida Bay; diatoms; epiphytes; fertilization; nitrogen; nutrients; phosphorus; photopigments; seagrass.
© 2009 Phycological Society of America.