Metabolism of a nitrogen-enriched coastal marine lagoon during the summertime

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We measured metabolism rates in a shallow, nitrogen-enriched coastal marine ecosystem on Cape Cod (MA, USA) during seven summers using an open-water diel oxygen method. We compared two basins, one directly receiving most of the nitrogen (N) load (“Snug Harbor”) and another further removed from the N load and better flushed (“Outer Harbor”). Both dissolved oxygen and pH varied greatly over the day, increasing in daylight and decreasing at night. The more N-enriched basin frequently went hypoxic during the night, and the pH in both basins was low (compared to standard seawater) when the oxygen levels were low, due to elevated carbon dioxide. Day-to-day variation in gross primary production (GPP) was high and linked in part to variation in light. Whole-ecosystem respiration tended to track this short-term variation in GPP, suggesting that respiration by the primary producers often dominated whole-system respiration. GPP was higher in the more N-loaded Snug Harbor. Seagrasses covered over 60 % of the area of the better-flushed, Outer Harbor throughout our study and were the major contributors to GPP there. Seagrasses covered 20 % of the area in Snug Harbor for the first 5 years of our study, and their contribution to GPP was relatively small. The seagrasses in Snug Harbor died off completely in the 6th year, but GPP remained high then and in the subsequent year. Overall, rates of phytoplankton GPP were relatively low, suggesting that benthic micro- and macro-algae may be the dominant primary producers in Snug Harbor in most years. Net ecosystem production in both Snug Harbor and the Outer Harbor was variable from year to year, showing net heterotrophy in some years and net autotrophy in others, with a trend towards increasing autotrophy over the 7 years reported here.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Metabolism of a nitrogen-enriched coastal marine lagoon during the summertime
Series title Biogeochemistry
DOI 10.1007/s10533-013-9901-x
Volume 118
Issue 1-3
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 20 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Biogeochemistry
First page 1
Last page 20
Country United States
State Massachusetts
Other Geospatial West Falmouth Harbor
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