AME 37:95-107 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/ame037095

Planktonic carbon and nitrogen cycling off northwest Spain: variations in production of particulate and dissolved organic pools

Antonio Bode1,*, Marta M. Varela1, Eva Teira2, Emilio Fernández2, Nicolás González1, Manuel Varela1

1Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centro Oceanográfico de A Coruña, Apartado 130, 15080 A Coruña, Spain
2Departamiento de Biología Animal y Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias, Campus Lagoas-Marcosende s/n, Universidad de Vigo,Vigo, Spain

ABSTRACT: The coupling of carbon and nitrogen fluxes between dissolved and particulate organic pools was examined at a coastal location off Galicia (northwest Spain). Monthly measurements of dissolved and particulate carbon and nitrogen stocks, along with inorganic carbon and nitrogen uptake and release of dissolved organic substances were obtained between October 1998 and September 1999. Carbon fluxes were determined using incubations of plankton with inorganic 14C and nitrogen fluxes were determined using incubations of plankton with 15N-ammonium. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) was often released near the surface, while maximum release of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) generally occurred near the base of the euphotic zone. Both rates were linearly related to the corresponding uptake rates; however, the percentages of extracellular release relative to total uptake (PER) were highest during low-productivity periods, when both carbon and nitrogen PER exceeded 50% in deep layers. PER values were generally below 20% near the surface. Despite maximum values of both DOC (0.63 µmol C l-1 h-1) and DON release (0.06 µmol N l-1 h-1) being measured during spring and summer, volumetric values of both rates were not significantly correlated through the year. Such a differential behaviour caused a mismatch between DOC:DON release ratios and the C:N ratios of seston at discrete depths. In contrast, euphotic-zone integrated release rates showed average DOC:DON ratios reflecting the C:N ratios of seston. These results suggest that most of the organic matter available for microbial plankton near the coast derives from phytoplankton, which in turn is sustained by a rapid recycling of organic matter when external nutrient inputs are reduced.


KEY WORDS: Dissolved organic matter · DOC · DON · Uptake · Release · Coastal · Primary production


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