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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 122:227-237 (1995)  -  doi:10.3354/meps122227

Fine-scale vertical resolution of chlorophyll and photosynthetic parameters in shallow-water benthos

MacIntyre HL, Cullen JJ

The vertical distributions of chlorophyll concentration and photosynthetic parameters of sediment-associated microalgae were measured with a resolution of 1 mm. Sediment and the overlying water were sampled at 3 sandy, shallow-water sites near Corpus Christi Bay, Texas, USA. All sediment samples had a floc in the surficial millimeter that contained as much as or more chlorophyll than the 0.2 to 0.6 m of water overlying them. The photosynthetic responses of the sediment-associated microalgae were comparable with those of the suspended phytoplankton. Below the surficial floc, constancy of chlorophyll concentration and photosynthetic-irradiance (PI) responses indicated the existence of a physically mixed layer in the underlying 8 to 15 mm. Photosynthetically competent algae were found below the mixed layer and well below the depth to which light penetrates the sediment (ca 1 mm). Primary production was more or less equally distributed between the surficial millimeter of benthos and the overlying water. The surficial floc and some of the underlying sediment may be readily resuspended so that 'benthic' microalgae can contribute significantly to both water column and benthic primary production.

Microphytobenthos · Phytoplankton · Photosynthesis · Production · Mixing

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