Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2003-06


The interrelationships among trace element cycling, nutrient loading, and system complexity in estuaries: A mesocosm study.




Riedel, GF; Sanders, JG


26 ( 2 ) : 339 - 351




Biogeochemical interactions between a suite of trace elements and nutrients were examined in a series of experimental mesocosm experiments to understand how multiple stressors affect estuarine environments and how these effects are modified by the complexity of the system used to examine them. Experimental treatment included additions of nutrients and trace elements separately and combined, along with a gradient in experimental system complexity. Eight mesocosm experiments were carried out from 1996 through 1998. Increased nutrients generally decreased dissolved trace element concentrations, in large part through an increase in phytoplankton biomass, but also by increasing the concentration of metals in the particles. Trace element additions increased dissolved nutrients by decreasing phytoplankton biomass. The presence of sediments reduced both dissolved trace element and nutrient concentrations. Other complexity treatments had weaker effects on both dissolved nutrients and trace elements. Many of the observed effects appeared to be seasonal, occurring only in spring, or their magnitude was greater in spring. This may be linked to a change from phosphorus to nitrogen limitation that often occurs in the Patuxent River estuary in the late spring or early summer period.

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