Honors College Thesis


Marine Nitrogen Subsidies to Terrestrial Systems: Transport Through Wrack Deposition Public Deposited

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  • Fluctuations in one system affect adjacent systems; mechanistic understanding of linkages helps conservation efforts be more effective by focusing on influential species and areas that facilitate connections between ecosystems. This study explored marine-derived nutrient inputs to adjacent terrestrial communities. We quantified wrack (seaweed and other organic matter) deposition at sites (Shi Shi Beach (SS), Giants Graveyard (GG), and Cape Alava (CA)) along the outer Olympic Peninsula, WA that created potential nitrogen sources serving nearby terrestrial communities. We found five dominant species of seaweed in wrack deposits with variation in dominance and biomass of wrack within sites and between sites. We attribute within site variation to flotation adaptations of species and intersite variation to differences in geomorphology and source population. Due to abundance and stable nitrogen concentrations over time, Phyllospadix was influential to total nitrogen deposition from mean higher water (MHHW) to ~ 1.3m above MHHW, however above this elevation Fucus, Macrocystis, and Nereocystis were likely influential species. Cape Alava showed highest total nitrogen deposit per m² followed by GG and SS (CA > SS ~=GG; =65.8; p<0.0001). Our study shows considerable amounts of nitrogen are deposited on beaches through wrack and total nitrogen deposits is influenced by particular species of seaweeds and percent cover of deposits.
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