AME 20:273-284 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/ame020273

Significance of pelagic and benthic primary production in two shallow coastal lagoons of different degrees of eutrophication in the southern Baltic Sea

Jürgen Meyercordt*, Sabine Gerbersdorf, Lutz-Arend Meyer-Reil

Institut für Ökologie, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald, 18565 Kloster/Hiddensee, Germany

ABSTRACT: Primary production by pelagic and benthic microalgae was measured in 2 shallow coastal lagoons in the southern Baltic Sea by in situ and laboratory incubations to quantify the significance of these 2 major groups of primary producers in absolute and relative terms. Pelagic primary production rates per volume at saturating light conditions were 7 to 12 times higher at the polytrophic location Kirr-Bucht (Darss-Zingst Bodden) than at the meso-/eutrophic location Rassower Strom (Nordrügensche Bodden). Chlorophyll a specific primary production rates, however, were in the same range at both locations, except for 1 situation in spring which is explicitly discussed. The pelagic chlorophyll a specific maximum light utilization coefficient (a*) tended towards higher values in Kirr-Bucht samples, which can be interpreted as an adaptation to a lower supply of irradiance. Pelagic and benthic primary production varied seasonally, with highest rates occurring in June/July. A calculation of short-term variability due to cloud-modulated availability of irradiance revealed reductions of pelagic and benthic gross production (GP) rates on overcast days, compared to bright days, in the range of 26 to 69% and 62 to 82%, respectively. Net community production (NP) rates were more severely reduced than GP rates on overcast days. Benthic NP was generally reduced to below zero on overcast days, whereas it was mostly positive on bright days at both locations. To evaluate the significance of the different optical properties of both types of water (diffuse vertical attenuation coefficient, k = 3.3 to 3.7 and 0.5 to 0.7 m-1 at Kirr-Bucht and Rassower Strom, respectively) for primary production, the benthic and pelagic contributions at both sites were calculated regarding a water depth of 2 m, which is about the mean depth of the Bodden systems. This standardization revealed obvious differences in basic conditions for primary production which remained undetected when the comparison of the 2 sites was based on the water depths in which the in situ incubations had been carried out (0.6 and 3.4 m at Kirr-Bucht and Rassower Strom, respectively). In meso-/eutrophic Rassower Strom at a depth of 2 m, benthic GP would contribute about 30 to 45% to the total GP of microalgae, depending on weather conditions and seasons. At the same depth in polytrophic Kirr-Bucht, the microalgae on the sediment surface would account for only 0.3% or less of total GP. This demonstrates that optical properties of the water, which are closely related to the trophic state of the system, exert strong control on varying proportions of productivity, attributable to planktonic versus benthic microalgal communities. It can be concluded from the modeled data that the difference between both locations will be most prominent during periods of low supply of radiant energy, like on overcast days.

KEY WORDS: Primary production · Phytoplankton · Microphytobenthos · Irradiance · Eutrophication · Estuary · Baltic Sea

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