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Seasonal nitrogen dynamics in Chesapeake Bay: A network approach
Baird, D.J.; Ulanowicz, R.E.; Boynton, W.R. (1995). Seasonal nitrogen dynamics in Chesapeake Bay: A network approach. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 41(2): 137-162
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Biogeochemical cycle; Biogeochemistry; Estuaries; Nitrogen; Nitrogen cycle; Nutrient cycles; Phytoplankton; Seasonality; Trophic relationships; ANW, USA, Chesapeake Bay [Marine Regions]; Marine; Brackish water

Authors  Top 
  • Baird, D.J.
  • Ulanowicz, R.E.
  • Boynton, W.R.

Abstract
    The input, exchange, recycling and export of nitrogen in the mesohaline region of Chesapeake Bay have been assessed in this study. The seasonal rate of exchanges between the 36 most important components and the roles of these in the recycling process of nitrogen in the ecosystem have been quantified. Results show that the demand for nitrogen by phytoplankton, bacteria and benthic algae is the highest in summer (418 mg N m-2 day-1 and lowest in winter (90 mg N m-2 day-1). The supply of dissolved nitrogen however, is highest in spring (289 mg N m-2 day-1), with the lowest exogenous supply of 'new' nitrogen during summer (53 mg N m-2 day-1). The seasonal variation in supply and demand suggest that spring nitrogen loadings continue to sustain the high nitrogen demand in summer when this nutrient appears to be in short supply. Results also show that the efflux of nitrogen from the sediments to the overlying water dominates the recycling process and is abetted by water column regeneration, mostly by the smaller biota (<200 mu m). Mesozooplankton, suspension-feeders and fish as a whole contribute relatively little on a seasonal or annual basis to the total amount of regenerated nitrogen. Network analysis of the seasonal dynamics of nitrogen indicates that the pathways over which nitrogen is recycled are considerably more complicated and numerous than those which retain carbon in the system. The Finn Cycling Index (FCI) reveals that the rate of nitrogen recycling during summer approximates 70% of the total system activity compared with the 34-46% range during other seasons. In contrast, the FCI for carbon was almost a constant 20% over all seasons. As regards the pelagic microbiota, which functionated more as a shunt to convey excess carbon out of the system, analysis indicates they comprise very significant pathways for the retention of nitrogen in the system.

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