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Macroalgal-sediment nutrient interactions and their importance to macroalgal nutrition in a eutrophic estuary

Lavery, P.S. and McComb, A.J. (1991) Macroalgal-sediment nutrient interactions and their importance to macroalgal nutrition in a eutrophic estuary. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 32 (3). pp. 281-295.

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The potential for algal banks to influence water quality and sediment nutrient flux was examined through laboratory experiments and in situ monitoring of algal banks.

Loose macroalgal banks displayed seasonal changes in tissue nutrient concentrations suggesting a strong dependence on water column nutrients. These banks fail to generate conditions suitable to sediment nutrient release. Dense banks generated low oxygen conditions in the inter-algal water (0–1 mg l−1), corresponding to zones of high, and relatively stable, phosphate and ammonium concentrations (up to 96 μg l−1 PO4P and 166 μg l−1 NH4N). Laboratory experiments confirmed that macroalgal banks can generate reducing conditions at the sediment surface, regardless of the aeration regime, through the decomposition of macroalgal tissue. Platinum electrode potentials as low as −200 mV were recorded in the inter-algal water. In such banks, redox-dependent sediment nutrient release and anaerobic accumulation of nitrogen accounted for inter-algal nutrient concentrations of over 60 μg l−1 phosphate and 800 μg l−1 ammonium.

The generation of reducing conditions in inter-algal water required 7 days of still conditions and so this mechanism of nutrient generation is unlikely to be important in winter, when strong winds frequently shift the algal banks. It is suggested that in summer this mechanism may provide a source of nutrients to dense algal banks, supplementing reserves stored in winter.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Academic Press
Copyright: © 1991 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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