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Nutrient limitation of phytoplankton growth in Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts, USA: a nutrient enrichment study
Tomasky, G.; Barak, J.; Valiela, I.; Behr, P.; Soucy, L.; Foreman, K. (1999). Nutrient limitation of phytoplankton growth in Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts, USA: a nutrient enrichment study. Aquat. Ecol. 33(2): 147-155
In: Aquatic Ecology. Springer: Dordrecht; London; Boston. ISSN 1386-2588, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Tomasky, G.
  • Barak, J.
  • Valiela, I.
  • Behr, P.
  • Soucy, L.
  • Foreman, K.

Abstract
    We conducted nutrient enrichment experiments and field sampling to address three questions: (1) is there nutrient limitation of phytoplankton accumulation within an estuary whose waters are exposed to relatively high nitrogen loading rates, (2) where in the salinity gradient from fresh to seawater (0 to 32/1000) is there a shift from phosphorus to nitrogen limitation of phytoplankton accumulation, and (3) is there a seasonal shift in limiting function of phosphorus and nitrogen anywhere in the estuarine gradient. Nitrogen and phosphorus enrichment experiments in the Childs River, an estuary of Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts, USA, showed that the accumulation of phytoplankton biomass in brackish and saline water was limited by supply of nitrate during warm months. The effects of enrichment were less evident in fresh water, with short-lived responses to phosphate enrichment. There was no specific point along the salinity gradient where there was a shift from phosphorus- to nitrogen-limited phytoplankton accumulation; rather, the relative importance of nitrogen and phosphorus changed along the salinity gradient in the estuary and with the season of the year. There was no response to nutrient additions during the colder months, suggesting that some seasonally-varying factor, such as light, temperature or a physiological mechanism, restricted phytoplankton accumulation during months other than May-Aug. There was only slight evidence of a seasonal shift between nitrogen- and phosphorus-limitation of chlorophyll accumulation. Phytoplankton populations in nutrient-rich estuaries with short flushing times grow fast, but at the same time the cells may be advected out of the estuaries while still rapidly dividing, thereby providing an important subsidy to production in nearby deeper waters.

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