Controls on phytoplankton productivity in a wet–dry tropical estuary
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Flood events typically enhance primary productivity in estuaries via the increased nutrient inputs from land runoff. This study examined the drivers of phytoplankton biomass accumulation and productivity in a tropical estuary with a distinct wetedry seasonality, i.e. months of little or no rainfall, and a highly episodic extended wet season. The study found that over two wet seasons, there was little evidence of freshwater inputs increasing nutrient concentrations, and chlorophyll a concentrations and phytoplankton productivity rates decreased in the water column, probably due to low water residence times. The magnitude and duration of freshwater flows in the wet season appeared to affect the scale of reduction of phytoplankton productivity and biomass accumulation. In contrast to many studies, there was also no evidence of post-flooding stimulation of chlorophyll a concentration with net export of nutrients in both the wet and dry seasons. Nitrogen (N) and light appeared to be key limiting factors for phytoplankton growth with estuarine DIN rapidly turned over by phytoplankton, no evidence of N fixation by phytoplankton, and a response to N, but not phosphorus (P), in algal bioassays. Tidal resuspension of sediments was an important physical process that limited light availability for primary productivity. The lack of higher nutrient concentrations as a result of freshwater inputs, and lack of postflood algal growth stimulation contrasts with the findings of studies in eutrophied systems.
Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
© 2012 Elsevier. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)