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Benthic microalgal biomass in sediments of Onslow Bay, North Carolina
Cahoon, L.B.; Redman, R.S.; Tronzo, C.R. (1990). Benthic microalgal biomass in sediments of Onslow Bay, North Carolina. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 31(6): 805-816.
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Cahoon, L.B.
  • Redman, R.S.
  • Tronzo, C.R.

    Sediment samples were collected at stations along cross-shelf transects in Onslow Bay, North Carolina, during two cruises in 1984 and 1985. Station depths ranged from 11 to 285 m. Sediment chlorophyll a concentrations ranged from 0·06 to 1·87 µg g-1 sediment (mean, 0·55), or 2·6–62·0 mg m2. Areal sediment chlorophyll a exceeded water column chlorophyll a a at 16 of 17 stations, especially at inshore and mid-shelf stations. Sediment ATP concentrations ranged from 0 to 0·67 µg g-1 sediment (mean, 0·28). Values for both biomass indicators were lowest in the depth range including the shelf break (50–99 m). Organic carbon contents of the sediments were uniformly low across the shelf, averaging 0·159% by weight. Photography of the sediments revealed extensive patches of microalgae on the sediment surface.Our data suggest that viable benthic microalgae occur across the North Carolina continental shelf. The distribution of benthic macroflora on the North Carolina shelf indicates that sufficient light and nutrients are available to support primary production out to the shelf break. Frequent storm-induced perturbations do not favour settling of phytoplankton, an alternative explanation for the presence of microalgal pigments in the sediments. Therefore, we propose that a distinct, productive benthic microflora exists across the North Carolina continental shelf.

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