Microphytobenthos contribution to nutrient-phytoplankton dynamics in a shallow coastal lagoon

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Webster, IT, Ford, PW & Hodgson, B 2002, 'Microphytobenthos contribution to nutrient-phytoplankton dynamics in a shallow coastal lagoon', Estuaries and Coasts, vol. 25, no. 4A, pp. 540-551.

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Nutrient fluxes and primary production were examined in Lake Illawarra (New South Wales, Australia), a shallow (Zmean=1.9 m) coastal lagoon with a surface area of 35 km2, by intensive measurement of dissolved nutrients and oxygen profiles over a 22-h period. Rates of primary production and nutrient uptake were calculated for the microphytobenthos, seagrass beds, macroalgae, and pelagic phytoplankton. Although gross nutrient release rates to the water column and sediment pore waters were potentially high, primary production by microphytobenthos rapidly sequesters the re-mineralized nutrients so that net releases, averaged over times longer than a day, were low. Production in the water column was closely coupled with the relatively low sediment net nutrient release rates and detrital decomposition in the water column. Dissolved inorganic nitrogen and silica concentrations in the water column are drawn down at the beginning of the day. The system did not appear to be light limited so photosynthesis occurs as fast as the nutrients become available to the phytoplankton and microphytobenthos. We conjecture that microphytobenthos are the dominant primary producers and, as has been shown previously, that the nutrient uptake occurs in phase with the various stages of the diatom growth.

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