Comparison of the Effects of Short-Term UVB Radiation Exposure on Phytoplankton Photosynthesis in the Temperate Changjiang and Subtropical Zhujiang Estuaries of China

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Zhou, Weihua
Yin, Kedong
Yuan, Xiangcheng
Ning, Xiuren
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We examined the effect of solar ultraviolet radiation B (UVB, 280-315 nm) on photosynthesis of natural phytoplankton assemblages in the temperate Changjiang River Estuary (CRE) in the East China Sea (ECS), and the subtropical Zhujiang River Estuary (ZRE) in the South China Sea (SCS) from August 2002 to April 2003. The shortterm effect of UVB was assessed by exposing samples in quartz tubes/bottles to solar radiation under three treatments: (1) natural sunlight (NS) with UVB (NS-UVB); (2) photosynthetically active radiation (PAR, NS cut off UVB); and (3) NS with additional artificial UVB (NS + A-UVB). Solar UVB apparently inhibited phytoplankton photosynthesis rates. In the temperate CRE-ECS, solar UVB reduced surface phytoplankton photosynthesis by about 28% in August and February, while in the subtropical ZRE-SCS the inhibition was only 22% in September and October. In the CRE-ECS, phytoplankton in the stratified water column displayed stronger UVB inhibition when deeper water samples were exposed to surface UVB. Phytoplankton in the mixed water column did not show strong UVB inhibition, while light shift exposure of deeper phytoplankton in the same water column to surface light produced similar results, indicating that mixing moderates UVB effects. In the ZRE-SCS, surface phytoplankton showed greater photoinhibition in January (sunny). However, in April (cloudy), phytoplankton showed little UVB inhibition. Incubation for a short time without UVB showed a large increase in Chl a at two stations in the ZRE-SCS, but a large decrease at the other station in the presence of UVB. In contrast, in the CRE-ECS, a similar incubation experiment without UVB showed a decrease in Chl a, and small UVB inhibition of Chl a at two stations. Nutrient conditions might have played a role in the difference of UVB inhibition between the two regions as the ZRESCS had relatively high concentrations of all nutrients while PO4 was only 0.21 占at one of the CRE-ECS stations. The results suggest that phytoplankton in temperate waters would be more responsive to variation of UVB than ones in subtropical waters.

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Journal of Oceanography

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© 2009 Springer Netherlands. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. The original publication is available at

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