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Phosphorus limitation during a phytoplankton spring bloom in the western Dutch Wadden Sea
Ly, J.; Philippart, C.J.M.; Kromkamp, J.C. (2014). Phosphorus limitation during a phytoplankton spring bloom in the western Dutch Wadden Sea. J. Sea Res. 88: 109-120.
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Western Wadden Sea; Phytoplankton community; Phosphorus limitation;Bioassays; Alkaline phosphatase activity

Authors  Top 
  • Ly, J., more
  • Philippart, C.J.M., more
  • Kromkamp, J.C., more

    Like many aquatic ecosystems, the western Dutch Wadden Sea has undergone eutrophication. Due to changes in management policy, nutrient loads, especially phosphorus decreased after the mid-80s. It is still under debate, however, whether nutrients or light is limiting phytoplankton production in the western Wadden Sea, as studies using monitoring data delivered sometimes opposite conclusions and outcomes were related to years, seasons and approaches used. Clearly, the monitoring data alone were not sufficient. We therefore examined the limiting factors for the phytoplankton spring bloom using different experimental approaches. During the spring bloom in April 2010, we investigated several nutrient regimes on natural phytoplankton assemblages at a long term monitoring site, the NIOZ-Jetty sampling (Marsdiep, The Netherlands). Four bioassays, lasting 6 days each, were performed in controlled conditions. From changes in phytoplankton biomass, chlorophyll-a (Chla), we could conclude that the phytoplankton in general was mainly P-limited during this period, whereas a Si-P-co-limitation was likely for the diatom populations, when present. These results were confirmed by changes in the photosynthetic efficiency (F-V/F-m), in the expression of alkaline phosphatase activity (APA) measured with the fluorescent probe ELF-97, and in the C-13 stable isotope incorporation in particulate organic carbon (POC). During our bioassay experiments, we observed a highly dynamic phytoplankton community with regard to species composition and growth rates. The considerable differences in net population growth rates, occurring under more or less similar environmental incubation conditions, suggest that phytoplankton species composition and grazing activity by small grazers were important structuring factors for net growth during this period.

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