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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 198:33-42 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps198033

Phosphorus budget of Apalachicola Bay: a river-dominated estuary in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico

Behzad Mortazavi1,*, Richard L. Iverson1, William M. Landing1, Wenrui Huang2

1Florida State University, Department of Oceanography, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4320, USA
2FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, 2525 Pottsdamer St., Tallahassee, Florida 32310-6046, USA

ABSTRACT: Estuarine nutrient budgets are used to understand the transformation of river-born nutrients delivered to the sea, and to gain insights into the impact of terrestrially-derived nutrients on coastal ecosystems. To construct a phosphorus budget for Apalachicola Bay, we measured soluble reactive, dissolved organic, and particulate phosphorus in the Apalachicola River and estuary on a monthly basis over a 2 yr period. The results of the chemical time-series measurements were coupled with river flow data and results of a 3-dimensional hydrodynamic model of the estuary to estimate phosphorus input to the estuary and phosphorus exchange with the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). On average, the Apalachicola River accounted for 70 and 78% of the water and total phosphorus (TP) input to the estuary, respectively, while exchange with the GOM accounted for the remainder. TP input to the estuary was 4.57 ± 0.21 (± 1SD) g P m-2 yr-1, the majority of which was in the particulate form (2.69 ± 0.19 g P m-2 yr-1). Dissolved organic phosphorus (DOP) represented 24% of the total input, while soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) represented the smallest fraction (17%) of the total input. Particulate phosphorus export to the GOM (2.75 ± 0.19 g P m-2 yr-1) was similar to particulate phosphorus input to the estuary. However, only 64 and 58% of the DOP and SRP input to the estuary, respectively, were exported to the GOM. Phosphorus accumulation in the sediments accounted for 25% (1.10 ± 0.37 g P m-2 yr-1) of the TP input to the estuary. Phytoplankton phosphorus demand for the study period was 6.75 g P m-2 yr-1, of which 11% could be supplied by net SRP and DOP input to the estuary. The phosphorus budget for Apalachicola Bay was balanced to within 9% of TP input.

KEY WORDS: Phosphorus · Budget · Estuary · Dissolved organic phosphorus · Soluble reactive phosphorus · Particulate phosphorus

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