Production Ecology of the Non-indigenous Seagrass, Dwarf Eelgrass (Zostera japonica Ascher. & Graeb.), in a Pacific Northwest Estuary, USA
The non-indigenous seagrass Zostera japonica Ascher. & Graeb. (dwarf eelgrass) was first identified in central Oregon (USA) estuaries about 30 years ago. The autecology of this species is poorly described at the southern end of its non-native range although several process oriented studies have been conducted. I examined the production ecology of Z. japonica in the Yaquina Bay estuary. Strong seasonal patterns in light and temperature appeared to control the seasonal variations in biomass and growth. Above- and below-ground biomass ranged between 40–100 and 70–170 gdw m-2 respectively and seasonal changes in the root:shoot ratio were controlled by above-ground biomass dynamics. Shoot density ranged between 4000 and 11 000 shts m-2. Areal leaf growth ranged between 0.1 and 1.7 gdw m-2 d-1 and annual production was about 314 ± 60 gdw m-2 y-1 (mean ± SD). Nutrients were not limiting in this system as a result of coastal upwelling and watershed inputs. The Z. japonica population studied in Oregon exhibited different patterns of persistence, phenology and flowering intensity relative to other populations along its native and non-native range. These differences suggest that management policies developed for one site may not be appropriate for other sites. The data presented here greatly expands our knowledge base on Z. japonica and provides insight to the processes controlling the dynamics and spread of this non-indigenous seagrass.