Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

General Conceptual Frame and Historical Background, Justification of Field Sites

"Buffering capacity" has been defined in ecology as a holistic concept (see Jørgensen, 1992), but we have shown that it can also be investigated using mechanistic studies.This concept has enabled a dialogue to be established between holistically and mechanistically oriented researchers, and is particularly useful to study non-linear changes in coastal lagoon ecosystems. We have applied this concept to understand "local stability" in seagrass ecosystems and their vulnerability towards structural changes into macro-algal dominated communities. The Bassin d'Arcachon is still an outstanding environment which harbours the largest meadows of the seagrass species Zostera noltii Hornem. (70 km2) in Western Europe. Nevertheless, a critical evaluation of nutrient loading through the tributaries has shown that nitrogen inputs continue to rise, while phosphorus loadings have drastically decreased since the early 1980's after the implementation of urban wastewater treatment schemes (data courtesy of IFREMER, Arcachon and l'Agence de l'eau Adour-Garonne).

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